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THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST 
PSYCHICAL BELIEF 



THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST 
PSYCHICAL BELIEF 



By 

SIR OLIVER LODGE 

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 

FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

L. R. G. CRANDON 

MARY AUSTIN 

MARGARET DELAND. 

WILLIAM McDOUGALL 

HANS DRIESCH 

WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

F. C. S. SCHILLER 

JOHN E. COOVER 

GARDNER MURPHY 

JOSEPH JASTROW 

HARRY HOUDINI 



Edited by 
CARL MURCHISON 



HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW TORONTO 

MELBOURNE CAPE TOWN BOMBAY CALCUTTA 



Copyright, 1927, by 
Clark University 



All Rights Reserved 



Printed in the United States of America 

by 
The Heffernan Press, Spencer, Massachusetts 



PREFACE 

Back in December, 1925, Professor William McDougall, Mr. 
Harry Houdini, and I, while eating luncheon in the grill room of 
the Bancroft Hotel, Worcester, Massachusetts, began talking about 
spirit mediums, psychic phenomena, and other matters relating to 
psychical research. Professor McDougall and Mr. Houdini, though 
the best of friends, did not seem to be in entire agreement concerning 
certain matters that have become of wide social interest because of 
newspaper emphasis. Half jokingly and half in earnest, I suggested 
that they and other representatives thrash out the entire matter in a 
public symposium to be held at Clark University. The suggestion 
struck both of them with great force, and the three of us worked 
together in the lobby for more than two hours, planning the form 
of the symposium as well as we could at that early date. The Presi- 
dent and Trustees of Clark University were favorable to the idea, 
and voted the use of certain funds left to Clark University some 
yfears ago for such purposes. 

We want it distinctly understood that Clark University, in pro- 
moting this symposium, is by no means assuming the role of friend 
to psychical research and its various adherents. Clark University is 
assuming only the role of parliamentarian in the controversy. At 
this moment it is well to announce that the members of the Clark 
University Department of Psychology are most decidedly not yet con- 
vinced of the validity of the psychical interpretations based upon the 
subject matter of psychical research. Being scientists, we guarantee 
fair play in the conduct of this symposium. If there is a spirit world, 
we also, being human beings, are interested in learning about it. 

Great care has been exercised in determining the individuals to 
whom invitations would be extended to participate in this symposium. 
We do not believe that a more able group of authorities could pos- 
sibly be selected. A majority of the speakers are of world renown, 
and are experts of the highest order. 

The manuscripts from Sir Oliver Lodge and from Professor John 
E. Coover arrived too late to be presented during the symposium, 
which was held "at Clark University November 29 to December 11, 
1926, and so are printed here for the first time. The letters from Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle and from Professor Joseph Jastrow continue 
the controversy initiated during the symposium, and are printed here 



PREFACE 

in order to make clear the convictions of these two gentlemen. The 
reprint of Dr. Walter F. Prince's article from the American Journal 
of Psychology, which we have inserted at the end of his address, is 
placed in this volume in order to make clear the differences of ob- 
servation and interpretation existing between Dr. Prince and Dr. 
Crandon. We extend grateful thanks to the American Journal of 
Psychology for permission to reprint this article. Mr. Harry Hou- 
dini was to have been a speaker in this symposium, but his untimely 
death prevented. In consultation with Mrs. Houdini we have agreed 
that the best existing statement of Mr. Houdini's convictions in this 
field are represented in the chapters which Mrs. Houdini and Harper 
& Brothers have very kindly allowed to be reprinted from A Magi- 
cian Among the Spirits. This book is only two years old, and Mrs. 
Houdini agrees that it still represents Mr. Houdini's final convictions 
on the subject. 

Clark University offers this volume to the public, sincerely hoping 
that it may prove useful to the many thousands of people who are 
keenly interested, but who find it difficult to become well informed 
in this controversial field. This volume should remain for many years 
the authoritative source for expert opinion concerning the case for 
and against psychical belief. 

CARL MURCHISON. 
CLARK UNIVERSITY 
Worcester, Massachusetts 
February 1, 1927 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Preface by Carl Murchison, Ph. D., Professor of Psychology, 

Clark University vii 

PART I 

CONVINCED OF THE MULTIPLICITY OF 
PSYCHICAL PHENOMENA 

1. The University Aspect of Psychical Research 3 

SIR OLIVER LODGE, F.R.S., D.Sc., LL.D. 

4 

2. The Psychic Question as I See It 15 

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, M.D., LL.D. 

3. The Pragmatist in Psychic Research 25 

FREDERICK BLIGH BOND, F.R.I. B. A. (England), 
First Editor of Psychic Science, and Author of The 
Gate of Remembrance, The Hill of Vision, The 
Company of Avalon, etc. 

4. The Margery Mediumship 65 

L. R. G. CRANDON, M.D., Boston physician, and hus- 
band of the well known medium, Margery. 

5. A Subjective Study of Death 111 

MARY AUSTIN, Author of Everyman's Genius, A 
Small Town Man, The American Rhythm, etc. 

6. A Peak in Darien 121 

MARGARET DELAND, Author of Old Chester Tales, 
Dr. Lavendar's People, The Iron Woman, The 
Kays, etc., and Member of the National Institute 
of Arts and Letters. 

PART II 

CONVINCED OF THE RARITY OF GENUINE 
PSYCHICAL PHENOMENA 

7. Psychical Research as a University Study 149 

WILLIAM McDouGALL, D.Sc., F.R.S., Professor of 
Psychology, Harvard University. 



8. Psychical Research and Philosophy 163 

HANS DRJESCH, PH.D., Professor of Philosophy, 
University of Leipzig, and President of the British 
Society for Psychical Research. 

9. Is Psychical Research Worth While? 179 

A Review of the Margery Case 199 

WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE, PH.D., Research Offi- 
cer of the Boston Society for Psychic Research. 

10. Some Logical Aspects of Psychical Research 215 

F. C. S. SCHILLER, D.Sc., F.B.A., Fellow and Tutor 
of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 

PART III 
UNCONVINCED AS YET 

11. Metapsychics and the Incredulity of Psychologists 229 

JOHN E. COOVER, PH.D., Associate Professor of Psy- 
chology, Stanford University. 

12. Telepathy as an Experimental Problem 265 

GARDNER MURPHY, PH.D., Instructor in Psy- 
chology, Columbia University. 

PART IV 

ANTAGONISTIC TO THE CLAIMS THAT SUCH 
PHENOMENA OCCUR 

13. The Animus of Psychical Research 281 

JOSEPH JASTROW, PH.D., Professor of Psychology, 
University of Wisconsin. 

14. A Magician Among the Spirits 315 

HARRY HOUDINI, World-famous magician. 



TABLE OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Edgar Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey 43 

Specimen of Johannes script given through Margery 59 

Specimen of Johannes script given through John Alleyne 60 

Margery between pages 84 and 85 

The plate glass cabinet, Figure 1 between pages 84 and 85 

A pair of chemical balances, Figure 2 between pages 84 and 85 
Walter's hand ringing the bell box, Figure 3 

between pages 84 and 85 

Head teleplasm, Figure 4 between pages 84 and 85 

Walter's voice mechanism, Figure 5 between pages 84 and 85 
Dr. Mark W. Richardson's Voice-Cut- 

Out machine, Figure 6 between pages 84 and 85 

A paraffine glove, Figure 7 between pages 84 and 85 
Board used in telepathic experiment at 

University of Groningen, Netherlands, 

Figure 1 268 
Apparatus used for telepathic experiment 

University of Groningen, Netherlands, 

Figure 2 between pages 276 and 277 

Writing on "honest slates" by means of wedge and wire 317 

Tube and piston arrangement for making raps 323 

Rapping mechanism in heel of medium's shoe 323 
Photograph of Houdini showing so- 
called "Spirit Extras" of President 

and Mrs. Harding between pages 340 and 341 



PARTI 

Convinced of the Multiplicity of Psychical 
Phenomena 



CHAPTER I 



THE UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL 
RESEARCH 



BY SIR OLIVER LODGE 



I 

UNIVERSITIES AND PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 
I can but heartily welcome the pioneer effort of the Clark Univer- 
sity to take the subject of Psychical Research under its wing and 
give it the prestige of academic recognition. The event is an im- 
portant one, for hitherto the subject has not made its way and 
effected an entrance into the precincts of orthodox science. Not yet, 
for instance, has a serious attempt been made to bring it under the 
official notice of the Royal Society. The nearest approach to such 
an attempt was made by Sir William Crookes when he unsuccess- 
fully invited one of the Secretaries of that august body to witness a 
simple and inexplicable physical phenomenon. Neither has the British 
Association, a more omniverous body, ever seriously attended to it 
in any of its sections. An attempt was made by Sir William Barrett 
in 1876, with Thought Transference as the thin end of a wedge, to 
effect an entrance; but though his paper was read, its publication 
was suppressed. 

Hence, so far, the scientific world in its corporate capacity has 
saved its face and held aloof from phenomena which have aroused the 
attention and enlisted the services of individual workers in science. 
Such workers have entered on the subject at their own risk and with 
inevitable damage to their reputation. Yet the British Association 
has long had an Anthropological Section, under which a study of 
human faculty, even of an unrecognized kind, might have found a 
place ; and recently it has developed a Psychological Section, to which 
presumably the subject may some day be held to belong. Meanwhile, 
however, that Section has limited itself, certainly in the main, to 
orthodox experimental and introspective psychology. 

I believe that something of the same kind may be said of the lead- 
ing American and Continental Societies, so that the scientific world 
may be absolved from any contaminating contact with such a theme, 
and with supernormal experiences, which nevertheless are rather 



4 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

widespread and have been testified to by explorers of many different 
kinds. 

II 

SURVEY OF THE SUBJECT 

By Psychical Research is intended a careful, and as far as possible 
exhaustive, investigation into those faculties of mankind which have 
not yet become familiar, and which have failed to attract universal 
attention. For there are obscure faculties, sometimes called super- 
normal faculties, which are not yet incorporated into orthodox Psy- 
chology, though some of them are forcing their way into practical 
recognition by philosophers and medical practitioners. One of these 
is the phenomenon of Hypnotism. So recently as my own youth, it 
was utterly discredited, believed in by some whom it was the fashion 
to call "quacks and charlatans ;" whereas now it has become a fairly 
recognized department of medical practice. 

Another human faculty, not as yet so fully investigated, is Clair- 
voyance, including Telepathy, that is to say the ascertainment of in- 
formation by other than the usual channels; whether it be by what 
is called "mind-reading/* which has never been explained, or by some 
still more unintelligible process, to which we have not a clue. 
Professor Richet has called the faculty by what he intends to be the 
non-committal name of "Cryptesthesia," though one of its forms is 
often called psychometry. The reading of sealed documents, the 
contents of which are not known to anyone present, is perhaps the 
simplest or most easily cited example of this faculty; and this is not 
the place to discuss how far this apparent clairvoyance is or is not 
another variety of mind-reading. Nor is it the place to consider the 
evidence for such a faculty. Suffice it to say that many serious in- 
vestigators are convinced that such a faculty exists. The name 
"cryptesthesia" rather assumes that it is due to some hyper-activity of 
the organs of sense. But all admit that as yet we have no theory. 
At present we have to ascertain the facts and leave a theory to the 
future. Such a waiting attitude is a commonplace of Science. In 
the most modern Physics we are familiar with it, e. g. in the recently 
discovered Quantum, in the nature of Gravitation, and in our rela- 
tions to the Ether generally. Facts may be known long before they 
are explained ; and indeed a scientific explanation, even when attained, 
is never ultimate. 

Other branches of psychic or metapsychic investigation are con- 



UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 5 

nected with the lucidity of certain persons in a trance state, and the 
powers of the subconscious generally. It is found that occurrences 
elsewhere, or in the past, or occasionally even in the future, are thus 
somehow decipherable; as if access to wider knowledge, or to the 
knowledge of other persons, were open to the liberated personality 
of the entranced medium. Or, what seems to many investigators 
more likely, as if information were communicated by other intel- 
ligences through his or her bodily organism as through a kind of tele- 
phone. Some regard this phenomenon one way, some another, but 
all who have had adequate experience admit its reality as well as its 
extra-ordinary or supernormal character. 

The nature of inspiration is another branch, in which not much 
progress has been made. The fact has always been recognized; for 
the theory we still can wait. No theory fortunately has been laid 
down ex cathedra on inadequate data. The inspiration of poets, the 
inspiration of saints and mystics, comes we know not how ; we feel the 
vivifying breath of the spirit but we may not trace as yet its proximate 
source. The temptation is to treat the products of inspiration as 
oracular, which perhaps they are, and as infallible, which they are 
not. We must not attribute infallibility to anything that reaches us 
through a human channel, whether it be a Book or a Church or any 
other medium. 

I would not draw an antithesis by objecting to the phrase 'Verbal 
inspiration," for surely the greatest poets are verbally inspired in the 
sense that what they have to say is perfectly expressed. We should 
study and reverence the great utterances; but it is superstitious folly 
to treat every utterance as of equal value. As Matthew Arnold 
eloquently urged, it is absurd and mechanical and illiterate to con- 
sider that every part of a book or of a literature is equally author- 
itative throughout. Indeed this is not done now save by those ultra 
conservative good people who dare not let go of their anchorage in 
the rising tide, and who cling pathetically to submerged rocks. Yet, 
read intelligently, ancient documents are full of value and evolution- 
ary instruction, and of unconscious corroboration illustrative of psy- 
chic truths; and inspiration is a great reality, a geniune avenue to 
truth, a beneficent fount which may grow and be of more and more 
service to us as time goes on and we become more receptive. 

Other psychic phenomena, familiar enough as to the facts, but ob- 
scure in their theory, are those associated with Sleep and Dreams, 
which may be ranked among the minor activities of the subconscious. 



6 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

And lastly, and chiefly, the phenomenon of Death. It is perhaps 
principally in connection with the subject of death that the present 
outcome of Psychical Research appears to be in conflict with tradi- 
tional beliefs that have come down to us as portions of religious faith. 

Psychical Research is primarily an enquiry, and as such has no 
creed. But it has established the reality and truth of the phenomena 
which at present we group under Hypnotism, Telepathy, and Clair- 
voyance; while most of the investigators have gradually become con- 
vinced that existence is continuous, that death is not the end; or, in 
popular phraseology, that man is an immortal being. 

It may be said that that is no new discovery, that nearly every form 
of Religion has held it, that it is a prime article of faith. Quite true, 
but it has not been till lately an article of scientific knowledge. It 
has been accepted as an article of faith, it has not been proven, 
not proven, that is, for the generality of mankind. The proof in- 
volves the definite assertion that those whom we call "the dead" or 
"the departed" have not only in some sense survived, but that they 
are still more or less in touch with us, and that occasionally they are 
able to demonstrate their continued existence and interest by actual 
communication. This is not really new, so far as statements and 
examples go. Religious literature is full of supernormal communica- 
tions. But the possibility has never been fully recognized, and has 
never been made use of as a comfort to the bereaved and as a means 
of obtaining information about the conditions of a future state. The 
beliefs of religious people on this subject are reverent but vague, so 
vague that the consolations legitimately derivable from knowledge 
are not forthcoming. For all practical purposes, the dead might as 
well be extinct. 

But by psychic investigations, it is held, not only the existence, but 
the activities of the "dead" have been demonstrated; and the power 
of inter-communion has been shown to be a fact. This may be dis- 
credited. Not every investigator is yet convinced. The fact if it 
be a fact is a great one ; and its complete demonstration takes time. 
I am sure that continued enquiry will demonstrate it to the full. 
Meanwhile it is quite legitimate to hold a different opinion. Belief 
is not to be coerced ; nor should one who has been convinced by direct 
experience feel unduly impatient to convince others. Truth will 
make its way; he that believeth need not make haste; in quietness and 
confidence should be our strength. 

The phenomena cannot be considered new; they have been ap- 



UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 7 

prehended by serious individuals in many stages of the world's devel- 
opment. Some of them were not unknown to Plato and to Virgil. 
I am told by scholars that Plotinus, that great Neoplatonist, was 
acquainted with many of them, and was not unprepared to assimilate 
them into his mystic philosophy. From time to time they have at- 
tracted a recrudescence of attention. John Wesley was at one time 
impressed with their reality; and the quondam physicist Swedenborg 
developed them in his own person so extensively as practically to over- 
cloud his physics. Within the memory of a few still living the sub- 
ject was as it were reborn, and forced into public attention, partly in 
America, partly in Britain, in the teeth of much ridicule and some 
virulent opposition, and under circumstances which seemed at the 
time very damaging. 

Still the phenomena occurred, and in the year 1882, under the in- 
fluence and the enthusiasm of Sir William Barrett, F. W. H. Myers, 
Edmund Gurney, and others at Cambridge, who succeeded in en- 
listing the interest and judicial calm of Professor Henry Sidgwick, 
and a few other distinguished men, a definite Society was founded 
for the purpose of examining whether any truth underlay all these 
assertions, and of studying every variety of obscure human faculty, 
so as if possible to sift out the trustworthy evidence from what might 
be baseless assertion and superstition, and so gradually to put the 
thing on a careful and scientific basis. 

The popular notion about this Society is that it was founded to 
establish scientifically the actuality of human survival. That might 
or might not be the outcome of the Society's work ; but that was not 
the object with which it was founded. There were certainly facts 
about human personality, one of which was Hypnotism, which, 
though it had long been under a cloud, was beginning to be recognized 
by the medical profession; and it seemed likely enough that there 
were others which could be brought to book, and either established 
or discarded, if the attempt were made to examine the evidence with- 
out prepossession and with critical care. 

The English S. P. R. was not the only Society established for in- 
vestigation, though it seems to have been the first of the permanent 
ones. In 1884 a Society for Psychical Research was initiated in 
America, mainly by Sir William Barrett, for the purpose of advancing 
psychical research in America in co-operation with the English 
Society. Professor Simon Newcomb was the first President ; and the 
Officers and Council included: Professor G. Stanley Hall of Balti- 



8 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

more, Professor Fullerton of Philadelphia, Professor Pickering, 
Dr. H. P. Bowditch, and Dr. C. S. Minot, all of Harvard Uni- 
versity; also Professor William James, Professor G. F. Barker, and 
others. In 1890 this Society was, by its own request, converted into 
a Branch of the English Society ; Dr. Richard Hodgson acting as the 
Secretary and Treasurer, and Professor William James and Profes- 
sor S. P. Langley as an Advisory Committee. In 1905 Dr. Hodgson 
died, and in the following year the Branch was dissolved, the 
majority of its members being transferred to the English Society. 
Dr. Hyslop then formed an independent organization, the present 
American Society for Psychical Research. 

The aim of the British Society, and presumably also of the Amer- 
ican, was a study of human personality, and all its possibilities; one 
of those possibilities being the survival of bodily death, towards be- 
lief in which, as an established scientific fact, several of the individual 
founders and workers in the Society gradually drifted, as is par- 
ticularly emphasized in the standard Treatise written by Myers 
towards the end of his life, and published after his death under the 
title Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death. 

This last, however, was a deduction from the facts which was not 
universally acceptable even by those who entered on the study se- 
riously. Many of the N Continental workers to this day refrain from 
giving assent to this conclusion as a deduction from the facts; while 
yet they have no doubt that the facts themselves are well established. 
A few still find themselves able to adhere to a materialistic view of 
the universe in spite of them. Others there are whom the evidence 
has convinced that survival of bodily death is a true deduction, and 
these have been led to infer, as established on a basis of strict evi- 
dence, what Myers called "the preamble of all religions," viz. the 
existence of a spiritual world. These have maintained that the facts 
could only be explained, (if such in the present state of knowledge 
can be called an explanation), by the postulate of an interaction 
between spirit and matter far wider than is exhibited by the ordinary 
existence and normal behaviour of humanity, and have been led to the 
conclusion that what was being unearthed was nothing less than the 
opening of a new volume in Science, and the discovery of a whole 
new world of beings, unfamiliar to us and unrecognized by the normal 
senses, who yet under certain conditions are able to interact with 
matter and to produce by their activity and latent powers results be- 
yond the ordinary capacity of man. 



UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 9 

That such a conclusion is absurd or impossible cannot be rationally 
held. We know too little about the universe to make assertions 
of that character, far too little to make an absolute denial of what is 
possible. The human senses, which we share with the animals, tell 
us a certain amount about the universe; but they are very limited 
in scope. Science deals with a multitude of inferences beyond the 
direct apprehension of the senses. By the senses alone, however 
aided by instruments, we should never have arrived at the structure 
of the atom. While as for the Ether of Space, it is so elusive, in- 
tangible and insensible to human faculty, that it is quite possible to 
doubt its existence. What we know is that mind and matter do in- 
teract, that life does make use of material particles to display itself; 
and what other capacities it may have, whatever other physical mani- 
festations may be within its power, we can only ascertain by scrup- 
ulous and long-continued investigation. 

One of the faculties which seem to have been put on a firm 
foundation by the labours of the S. P. R. is the previously unrecog- 
nized faculty of telepathy, the action of mind on mind apart from 
the ordinary organs of sense. A brain-muscle mechanism is needed 
to display it; indeed, without such mechanism, no manifestation is 
possible. But the process itself seems independent of the mechanism, 
and seems likely to continue even when the mechanism has been 
discarded. Thus telepathy alone, if its reality can be admitted, 
seemed a great stride in the direction of rendering survival of mental 
activity apart from the body, with continued memory and character 
and personality reasonably possible. 

But many of the investigators have gone far beyond that. Human 
faculty in their view is not limited to mental impressions. Many 
physical phenomena are also asserted to occur in the presence of 
certain individuals. Physiological phenomena have been observed, 
which seem to enlarge the known possibilities of living organisms; 
and the existence of a protoplasmic material, which can take on 
shapes akin to that of the body, and can produce the motion of pieces 
of matter not in contact with the normal body, is, especially by Con- 
tinental observers, maintained. It is further held by some that the 
personality of some exceptional individuals is not limited to the man- 
ipulation of their normal bodily organisms, but can reach out to a 
distance, abandoning the organism for a time, say, during trance, 
somewhat after the same fashion as it may abandon it permanently 
at death ; and thus can re-act on organisms, obtain and give in forma- 



10 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

tion, and produce physical results at a distance, to a surprising and 
and otherwise inexplicable and incredible extent. By such means it 
is held that communion with the departed is possible, and that per- 
sonalities not now associated with the flesh can still occasionally in- 
teract with the organism, and that by their aid, or with the help of 
that hypothesis, many otherwise inexplicable phenomena can be re- 
garded in a rational, and ultimately it is hoped in a truly scientific, 
light. 

The first step undoubtedly is to make sure of the facts, but the as- 
similation and recognition of facts is always aided by some kind 
of working hypothesis. To admit the facts is one thing; to con- 
sider the hypothesis as verified is another. Those who, from long 
habit and lifelong study of orthodox science, feel such a hypothesis 
to be wild and unpalatable, find it safest to deny the facts. Others 
there are, however, equally hostile to the spiritistic hypothesis, who 
yet feel constrained to admit the facts as the result of direct ob- 
servation. 

Some of these facts if for the moment on legitimate authority 
I am allowed to call them facts are violently incredible, especially 
those which deal with ectoplasmic formations of a physiological and 
yet temporary character. Such facts must seem especially repellent 
to a physiologist. Yet eminent physiologists, like Charles Richet of 
the University of Paris, feel constrained on the evidence to admit 
them. The subject has grown too large for contemptuous denial; 
we have not exhausted the possibilities of the universe ; strange things 
do undoubtedly occur. Whether among those strange thfngs we can 
reasonably include Materialisations, Dematerialisations, and what 
are called Apports, I prefer to leave an entirely open question. 

To many members of the S. P. R. the difficulty of admitting 
physical and physiological phenomena has been so great as to make 
them withhold their favourable judgment in every possible case; and 
in their examinations they have taken such stringent precautions that 
they may sometimes have succeeded in making them as impossible as 
they appear. Nevertheless individuals, one after the other, have 
succumbed to the evidence; and there is a growing body of opinion 
among the workers that, not only the mental phenomena, but some 
of the physical and physiological occurrences, will turn out to be 
realities. I, for instance, venture to assert that objects can be moved 
beyond the range of the normal body and without any ordinary con- 
tact; though whether that fact (like the mental phenomena of tele- 



UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 11 

pathy, the resuscitation of memory, the communication with other 
personalities,) has any bearing on the question of human survival, 
is a matter on which dogmatism would be inappropriate. Yet it is 
not irrational to suppose that all these things are connected, and that 
when we have the clue (which we have not at present) we shall find 
them all fitting into their places in a rational and comprehensive 
scheme, although it is a scheme far outside and beyond the con- 
fines of present day orthodox science, and although much patience 
and perseverance may be necessary, for several generations, before 
a reasonable theory is worked out. 

Ill 
A WORKING HYPOTHESIS FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

I venture to think that if a University takes a subject up, in ad- 
dition to scrutiny of facts and past records, it is desirable to have 
a working hypothesis, with which to attempt to lay the foundation 
for a theory of the phenomena, both psychical and physical. Both 
are the result of an interaction between mind and matter, the theory 
of which has been an age-long problem in Philosophy; and my view 
is that the mechanism of this interaction will not be solved or under- 
stood until the universal connecting medium, the Ether of Space, 
is taken into full account. 

Consider first psycho-physical phenomena. They appear to be 
operated through the intermediation of a material substance, of an 
organized or protoplasmic character, drawn from the body, and tem- 
porarily used both for exerting force on material objects, and for 
moulding into certain shapes, giving the appearance of the semi- 
physiological structures called materialisations. There is good evidence, 
though perhaps not complete proof, that ectoplasmic structures can 
be seen and handled; sometimes seen but not touched, sometimes 
touched but not seen ; and that these structures can imitate hands and 
faces, or limbs, or even complete portions of bodies, and can exert 
force so as to move inert material objects, in obedience to requests, 
and with signs of intelligence. 

Whether the control is exercised by the unconscious mind of the 
entranced medium, or by some other intelligence, is an open question ; 
but if the facts be granted (at any rate provisionally) we clearly have 
to ask how this control over matter is exercised, and we are thrown 
back upon the prior and ancient question of how our own control 
over matter is exercised. We ourselves have a permanent proto- 



12 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

plasmic organism which can do all these things and more. My hypo- 
thesis is that normally we do not act on matter directly, but indirectly 
through the ether. We are familiar with this kind of action through 
the ether in electrical, magnetic, and optical experiments, all of which 
are performed in that way. A magnet does not act on a piece of iron 
directly, but modifies the ether in its neighbourhood, so that the action 
is exerted. Similarly a gravitational field is an etherial phenomenon, 
and causes bodies to move towards the earth in the familiar way. 
Again the action of the sun on the earth, to which we owe nearly all 
terrestrial energy, is conducted through the ether by the agency in 
that case of light or radiation. Furthermore chemical affinity and co- 
hesion are all of a concealed electrical nature. We have learnt that 
no atom is in contact with any other atom, nor are the parts of an 
atom in contact with each other; they are united or connected by a 
medium, and all force is exerted through the connecting medium. 
It seems to me probable that this idea should be extended to mind, 
and that when we move our limbs, or other bodies in contact with 
those limbs, we should suppose that we are exerting the force in- 
directly through some mental modification of the ether. In other 
words, I assume that mind is directly connected with, and (so to 
speak) inhabits, the ether, and thus performs the operations to which 
we are accustomed ; it would then be less difficult to admit that thus 
also these unusual ones are effected for which we are beginning to 
collect evidence. 

It may be a difficult hypothesis, for which there is at present less 
than adequate foundation; but so far as I know it is the only one in 
the field, and until it is disproved it is worth following up and using 
as a clue. The material called ectoplasm cannot be acting by itself; 
it must be inert like any other form of matter, just like our own 
muscles. Nevertheless the muscles are obedient to our will, are sub- 
ject to intelligent control, the stimulus of which, though communi- 
cated through our nerves, is conveyed to them somehow from the 
central ganglia in the brain and nervous system. There is, however, 
an unexplored gap in the process, the gap between mind and brain, 
or between mental activity and nerve centres, about which we are 
still in the dark. If it should turn out to be a fact that mind in- 
habits and acts upon an etherial organism or etheric body, through 
which matter is got at and moved, the problem is not solved, but is 
pushed one step further back, which indeed is a characteristic of all 
physical explanations. We know that ether and matter interact. 



UNIVERSITY ASPECT OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 13 

We must assume that mind and ether interact, and that this last 
interaction is of a closer and more fundamental kind than any in- 
direct action between mind and matter. 

Furthermore, when we come to consider more purely psychic 
phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and the like, we are not 
so obviously, but still as really, faced with some mental action on 
matter, since these phenomena can only be testified to by speech or 
writing, or in some other mechanical way. Telepathy may be a 
direct action between mind and mind; but it is only displayed and 
made manifest when it also acts upon a brain and nerve mechanism, 
so that the thought is reproduced and information given through our 
vocal or other muscles, and received through our normal sense organs. 
The problem is therefore not different in character, only different in 
appearance, from other psycho-physical manifestations. The root 
of the problem, in this case, is whether there is any direct connection 
between mind and mind apart from an etherial connecting medium. 
It may be that in this case also mind and mind communicate through 
the ether. 

Such a guess has often been made and often discarded ; but it may 
have been discarded prematurely. If our real existence is definitely 
and inseparably connected with the ether, it is clear that we have 
thereby a physical kind of connection, which may or may not be 
utilized, but which needs exploration. If ever it should be proved 
that mind acts on matter through the ether, we may have to extend 
that and find that mind acts on mind through the ether. Whatever 
doubt exists about psycho-physical phenomena hardly applies to the 
connection between mind and mind. The normal method of com- 
munication is through the physical organisms of the two people con- 
cerned, as by speech or writing. We do not understand that process, 
we have only grown accustomed to it. It is evidently an indirect and 
roundabout process; but the discovery of telepathy shows that there 
is some more direct process of communication ; and sooner or later we 
must ask how the idea or thought is conveyed, and what the action 
of mind on mind really means. 

The evidence is already strong, and is growing in bulk and cogency, 
that we are in communication with minds which are discarnate, that 
is minds which have been deprived of their normal bodily material 
mechanism. But it does not at all follow that they have been de- 
prived of their etheric bodies, by which presumably they commu- 
nicate with each other, and occasionally, under exceptional circum- 



14 SIR OLIVER LODGE 

stances, with us. Telepathy from the discarnate, if established, 
proves that matter is not concerned in the process, at least at the 
sending end, though matter is involved in the demonstration of the 
action to us. It may be that there is some direct psychic activity 
which we do not understand ; but the hypothesis that the psychic and 
the physical are always connected or interrelated, and that the dis- 
carnate still have etheric bodies, through which they conduct all 
their activities, is growing in strength, and has to be faced. If we 
find that our own normal activities are really conducted in precisely 
the same way, that is if we find that the incarnate are acting directly 
through the ether, and that in that way we have constructed and 
work the mechanism of our own bodies, then the further step will 
not be so difficult. 

We must not lose ourselves in hypotheses, but must be guided by 
the facts. At the same time the facts are more assimilable if we 
have a thread on which to string them. And the view that the ether 
is not only a physical connecting medium, but is also the habitation 
of mind and spirit, and that in terms of that connection all else will 
have ultimately to be understood, is one that growingly commends 
itself to me. Many facts can be adduced in support of it; I am not 
aware of any that definitely contradict it. That, however, is a sub- 
ject for future study; and I commend the consideration of this 
hypothesis in detail to any University Faculty which enters upon the 
difficult task. 

Normanton House, 
Lake, 
Salisbury, 
Wilts, England. 



CHAPTER II 
THE PSYCHIC QUESTION AS I SEE IT 



BY SIR ARTHUR CON AN DOYLE 



I am sorry not to be present in person at your gathering, for 
every enquiry into Psychic matters excites my deep sympathy and 
interest. I consider it to be infinitely the most important thing in 
the world, and the particular thing which the human race in its 
present state of development needs more than anything else. Nothing 
is secure until the religious basis is secure, and that spiritualistic 
movement with which I am proud to be associated is the first 
attempt ever made in modern times to support faith by actual 
provable fact. 

" I would first state my credentials, since my opinion is only of 
value in so far as those are valid. In 1886, being at that time 
a materialist, I was induced to examine psychic phenomena. In 
1887 I wrote a signed article in "Light" upon the question. From 
that time I have never ceased to keep in touch with the matter by 
reading and occasional experiment. My conversion to the full 
meaning of spiritualism was a very gradual one, but by the war time 
it was complete. In 1916 I gave a lecture upon the subject, and 
found that it gave strength and comfort to others. I therefore 
determined to devote all my time to it, and so in the last ten years 
I have concentrated upon it, testing very many mediums, good and 
bad, studying the extensive literature, keeping in close touch with 
current psychic research, and incidentally writing seven books upon 
the subject. It is not possible that any living man can have had a 
much larger experience. When I add that I am a Doctor of 
medicine, specially trained in observation, and that as a public man 
of affairs I have never shown myself to be wild or unreasonable, I 
hope I have persuaded you that my opinion should have some weight 
as compared with those opponents whose contempt for the subject 
has been so great that it has prevented them from giving calm con- 
sideration to the facts. 

When the heavy hand of the mediaeval church had ceased to 
throttle man's mental activities, there set in a fierce reaction against 



16 SIR ARTHUR CON AN DOYLE 

all that had been taught. In this reaction much that was good was 
swept away as well as much that was questionable. Not only did 
many unreasonable dogmas and ceremonies suffer, but the very idea 
of invisible beings, communicating with or taking an interest in 
our human life, became a fairy tale. The Reformers wrought more 
ruin than they had planned, for presently the enfranchised thinkers 
destroyed all that was left. Hume, Gibbon, Tom Payne, Voltaire, 
and a line of writers who culminated in the Huxleys and Ingersolls 
of the Victorian era, cleared the whole universe of psychic power 
and left it a mere clockwork mechanical wonder swinging in a vast 
vacuo, with no sign of intelligence outside our own pigmy brains. 
Such is the conception which a large part of civilized humanity, and 
especially of the part which labels itself as scientific, still retains. 

But meanwhile a separate line of thought and experience had 
always existed, undisturbed by the waxing flood of materialism. It 
was the belief in the Unseen, depending not upon faith but upon 
happenings which were inexplicable save on the supposition of Intel- 
ligences, high and low, apart from ourselves. There were the inces- 
sant rumours of ghosts and visions, the curious experiences of mystics, 
the phenomena of mediaeval witchcraft, such definite hauntings as 
those recorded in the house of John Wesley, the inexplicable mircales 
of the Saints. All these combined presented a formidable body of 
evidence radically opposed to the conclusions of the materialists, but 
they were vague and fluid. Suddenly in the inexplicable way in 
which Providence works they all concentrated and challenged the 
attention of the world in the shackhouse of a peasant in the north 
of New York State. It was strange and rather sordid, but so for 
that matter was a carpenter's Son in a manger. Divine values are 
not as ours. The moment had come when religious revelation was 
to be shifted from the East to the West, from the Jew to the Anglo- 
Saxon. It is true that America was, and is, unaware of the vital 
change, but it is also true that Palestine has never been a Christian 
country. 

What occurred is an oft-told tale, and I need not repeat it to you 
at length. In itself it was trivial. In its results it will rank, accord- 
ing to my belief, amidst the greatest advances of the human 
race into the darkness which surrounds it. The facts are clear 
enough for anyone who has a sense of evidence, which is by no 
means a universal gift. By material signs, directed by invisible in- 
telligence, information was given of a crime which had been, as was 



THB PSYCHIC QUESTION AS I SEE If 17 

afterwards confirmed, actually committed. The little band of vil- 
lagers, who spent most of the night of March 31st, 1848, in examin- 
ing the facts, and who promptly published the result of their 
examination, did the finest bit of psychic research work that has 
ever been carried through. It was thoroughly satisfying and con- 
vincing. From that time the human race had definite proof within 
their reach that it was really possible to pierce the veil of death and 
to establish communication between separate planes of existence. 
If anyone differs from my conclusions, I would only say that it is 
unlikely that he has read the pamphlet entitled "A Report on the 
Mysterious Noises heard in the house of Mr. John D. Fox," since 
it is extremely rare, and that if he does read it he will find that 
it bears out what I say. 

The single fact is, as I have said, trivial, but the inferences are 
enormous. If indeed it be true that the discarnate can draw a 
latent power from our human bodies which they can use in order 
to impress our senses, then why should it stop at the low level of a 
murdered pedlar? May it not be used to reunite all the bonds 
which Death may break? More important still, might it not be 
used to get into touch with higher sources of wisdom from which 
we may gain light and teaching to aid us in understanding those 
problems of our being which have become so difficult that many have 
despaired of a solution? That was the tremendous possibility which 
had opened up before the human race. 

And slowly, gradually, impeded at every step by human obsta- 
cles, it is reaching that goal. It has done so completely in the case 
of tens of thousands. It is doing it partially throughout the com- 
munity. The main obstacles have been, first, religious obstruction 
and prejudice aroused by the fear that old standards will be abolished. 
These fears have seemed to be justified by the wild utterances of 
some excited brains over-stimulated by the new wine of revelation. 
But this is now passing away, and it is realized that spiritualism has 
come not to destroy, but to clarify, regulate and make broader and 
more reasonable the old conceptions of Christianity by recognizing 
that cosmic Christ spirit which has descended in various forms and 
degrees to all the nations of the earth. It is becoming a common 
platform of knowledge upon which all earnest men can meet. 
Secondly, there comes the opposition from Science. This arises 
largely from those scientific men who have not looked into the 
matter "it does not interest me," said Huxley, when asked to 



18 SIR ARTHUR CON AN DOYLB 

examine it. Of those who have looked into it the vast majority 
have found the facts to be unassailable. Among those who have 
completely admitted both the physical phenomena and the spirit 
inferences are: Sir Oliver Lodge, the father of wireless; Russel 
Wallace, the confrere of Darwin; Crookes, the discoverer of six 
elements; Lombroso, the famous alienist; Sir William Barrett, the 
physicist; Professor Hare of America, and a host of others. An- 
other array of names could be given of those who have satisfied 
themselves as to the phenomena, but refuse to commit themselves 
entirely to the spirit explanation. This includes such men as 
Charles Richet, Professor of Physiology at Paris, Dr. Geley, Dr. 
Schrenck-Notzing, Professor William James, and others. Most of 
these men are prepared to admit from their own experience that a 
materialised figure independent of the company, can walk the 
room, talk and perform intelligent actions. How such a figure 
can be differentiated from a spirit is a mystery to those who are 
endowed with less subtle understandings. 

The names mentioned above are those of scientists, but if we 
were to inscribe those distinguished people in other ranks of life 
who have experienced and fully accepted the proofs of this spiritual 
intercourse, my paper would exceed all bounds. It would include 
not only a long list of the greatest names in Europe, Thiers, Presi- 
dent of the French Republic, Victor Hugo, Sardou and others, but 
it would especially interest Americans as including the illustrious 
Abraham Lincoln, who at the very crisis of the American Civil War 
held counsel with unseen beings who guided him on the road which 
led to national safety. A well-documented account of the incident 
is to be found in Mrs. Maynard's book, "Was Lincoln a Spirit- 
ualist?". Among other great Americans who have in recent years 
been affected by the evidence are Professor Hyslop of Columbia 
University, Luther Burbank, the famous magician of the fruit farm, 
and finally, through the teaching and example of the latter, the 
great Edison, who admits that his change of view with regard to 
future life is due to Burbank's philosophy. 

It is as well, perhaps, that advance has been slow, though 78 years 
is but a trifle in the vast journey of human progression. Every 
step must be carefully tested. If one false crumbling stone be built 
into a column, every superimposed stone is in danger of becoming a 
ttiere waste of time and energy, erected upon a faulty base. There 
are, admittedly, some stones in the structure of Spiritualism as it is 



THE PSYCHIC QUESTION AS I SEE IT 19 

at present presented which may be rejected, but there are others 
which are strong and true. 

The weaker side of Spiritualism lies in the fact that its adherents 
have largely been drawn from the less educated part of the com- 
munity. The responsibility, of course, lies with the educated class 
who have not played their part. But the result has been to bring 
about a presentment of the philosophy which has often repelled 
earnest minds, and in no way represents its true scope and signifi- 
cance. Again, there has been no systematic cultivation of the gift 
of mediumship this also being the fault of the community and the 
law; with the result that it has often fallen into unworthy hands 
and been exercised for purely utilitarian and worldly motives. This 
holds good, so far as my experience goes, rather for America than 
for Britain, but in a degree it applies to both. 

Again, a retinue of rogues have been attracted to the Movement 
by the fact that seances have been largely held in the dark when 
the object has been to produce physical phenomena. This has 
served as a screen for villainy, and the effect has been increased 
occasionally by the systematic use of conjurors' apparatus. When 
such fraud has been discovered it has naturally come before the 
police courts and has been reported in the papers, while the success- 
ful work of the honest medium gets no public notice. Hence an 
entirely false view has been built up of the proportion of true to 
false. But the fault lies, to some extent, with the Spiritualists, as 
had they insisted upon the use of at least a red light at their seances 
these would have been less easy for rogues. It is true that this 
would have been done at the cost of a loss of power, for darkness 1*5 
conducive to results, but none the less I think that smaller phenomena 
with security are better than larger ones with a danger of scandal. 

It is, however, upon the side of organized Science that the chief 
fault lies if the general acceptance of the new knowledge has been 
slow. The reasons for this hesitation are complex. Science has 
always accustomed itself to think that results can be standardized, 
and that, given the same apparent conditions and factors, the same 
effects can always be evolved. It has suddenly been faced by a 
proposition where this no longer holds good, where there are in- 
visible factors which we cannot control, and where such mental 
conditions as harmony and sympathy on one side, or suspicion and 
aversion on the other, may make or mar the results. Many scien- 
tists could never reconcile themselves to the idea that the results 



20 SIR ARTHUR CONTAN DOYLE 

are obtained, not by the medium but through the medium, and that 
simply to seat him in a chair and blame him or the spiritualistic 
philosophy when results did not follow was to ignore the very 
essence of the problem which they were examining. These unusual 
conditions repelled many scientific men at the very outset of their 
psychic studies, and they prefererd to ascribe gross credulity to their 
brother scientists, or extraordinary conjuring powers to the inno- 
cent medium, rather than blame their own want of perception as 
to the true conditions of such an investigation. It is true that of 
those who did contrive to probe these matters the vast majority were 
persuaded of the validity of the supernormal phenomena, but how- 
ever distinguished in quality they were never numerous enough to 
outweigh those who had either judged the question without examina- 
tion, or had been repelled in the manner described. To this we 
must add the fact that the prejudice against the question was so 
strong that an Academic Career might even now be seriously 
affected by acquiescence in psychic truth. Scientific men are brave 
and unselfish, but they are human, and such a consideration cannot 
be altogether ignored. It would not be difficult to mention cases 
where men of science have joined in an investigation of psychic 
claims in a light-hearted manner, imagining that an exposure of them 
would be easy; but upon finding that the evidence presented to them 
entailed not an exposure but an acceptance they have hurriedly with- 
drawn without any attempt to give an explanation of their own ex- 
perience, save, perhaps, vague innuendoes of fraud against the unfor- 
tunate medium, neither sex nor social position being a protection. 

At first it would appear as if the separation between strict ortho- 
dox science, which allowed of no deviation from established standards 
of truth, and this new unorthodox development was complete and 
unbridgeable. Gradually, however, two points have been discovered 
which make a nexus between them, and these two will probably 
lead to many more in the future. There is really an immense 
amount of valid evidence, and it needs only the constructive brain 
to harmonise, organise and build up working hypotheses. At present 
I will examine the two different lines of approach. 

The first is Telepathy or the impressions produced by mind 
upon mind when the one is in some subtle undefined way attuned 
to the other. Here lie the points where the metals of psychic explor- 
ation form a branch line which runs off from the great main trunk 
of material science. The existence of Telepathy has been so well 



THE PSYCHIC QUESTION AS I SEE IT 21 

established, largely through the labours of Myers, Gurney and other 
members of the Psychic Research Society of England, that it has 
been accepted by many scientists who still look askance at psychic 
phenomena. Indeed it is used in very many arguments as being in 
some vague way an explanation of those phenomena. But in itself 
it constitutes a complete departure from the materialism of the Victor- 
ian era. If it be indeed possible for mind to affect mind at a distance, 
then clearly the functions of matter are not so circumscribed as we 
had imagined. I cannot easily forget my own surprise when I found 
by experiment that I could induce a person sitting with his back 
turned to me to draw the same simple diagram which I drew my- 
self. I could not reconcile it with the purely materialistic views 
which I then held, and I can see as I look back that it was indeed my 
first step into the unknown. If two incarnate minds, without a vis- 
ible material connection, can impress each other, then admitting that 
personality exists after death, it would not seem so utterly unthink- 
able that a discarnate mind might also have the same power. If this 
be granted, then we vaguely see a rationale lying behind automatic 
writing, trance-talking and other psychic phenomena. 

The second nexus which science is building up with psychic phe- 
nomena lies in the explorations of ectoplasm, which have been largely 
conducted by scientific observers who were not spiritualists, and who 
had no preconceptions and no emotional element in their search for 
truth. It is not within the scope of such a paper as this to detail what 
the observations and conclusions have been of such men as Charles 
Richet (who coined the word 'ectoplasm' ) , Dr. von Schrenck-Notz- 
ing, Dr. Geley, Professor Crawford and other observers, of whom 
Madame Bisson is not the least competent. They have among them 
fully and finally established the existence of this extraordinary sub- 
stance, which exactly corresponds to the plastic material evolved 
from vapour, continually described by the early spiritualists as 
being the physical basis of their phenomenal seances. If any one 
doubts that its existence has been clearly established, let me remind 
him that three years ago Dr. Schrenk-Notzing demonstrated ecto- 
plasm to one hundred picked observers, which included Professors 
of Jena, Giessen, Heidelberg, Munich, Tubingen, Upsala, Freiburg, 
Basle and other universities, together with a concourse of famous 
physicians, neurologists and savants of every sort. This assembly en- 
dorsed the fact that they had seen beyond doubt final proofs of the 
existence of ectoplasm. So also Dr. Geley gave a demonstration in 



22 SIR ARTHUR CON AN DOYLE 

Paris to forty picked observers, editors of papers, members of the 
Senate and other notables, with the same result. It is now mere ob- 
scurantism to pretend that such results can be ignored, and though 
they still leave much to be explained they do, so far as they go, afford 
a common ground where the man of science and the spiritualist can 
meet. It should be remarked that among other points which in- 
vestigation has established, there is none more certain than that ecto- 
plasm, this half-psychic, half-material product, is dissipated and de- 
stroyed by the actinic rays. This completely explains and justifies 
the procedure of the spiritualists in holding their seances in the dark, 
though for prudential reasons, as already explained, they might be 
wiser to insist upon red light which is the luminant most easily borne 
by this sensitive substance. 

What is needed now is a clear definition and consolidation of that 
which we know, so that we may have a firm base from which 
to begin our explorations into the unknown. At present every 
fresh investigator seems to start on the assumption that there has been 
no investigator before him, and so the alphabet has to be learned over 
again. No man has a right to be a member of any Committee of In- 
vestigation upon so profound a subject until he has put in at least 
a year of study and a course of reading which should include Craw- 
ford's three books of his researches, Richet's "Thirty Years of Psychic 
Investigation", Myers' "Human Personality", Schrenck-Notzing's 
volume on materialization, and Sir William Crookes' "Researches". 
People must realize that there is a Science, that there are laws, and 
that it is as absurd to approach it de novo as it would be for a tyro 
with no chemical knowledge to endeavour to test some chemical 
problem in a laboratory. 

I trust that I have stated the case in a way which has not too 
violently opposed the opinions of my audience. I have confined my- 
self chiefly to the scientific aspects. I should, however, be false to my 
knowledge and my convictions if I did not state in conclusion that 
I consider all this work of experimental psychic research, though very 
useful and necessary, to be a sort of super-materialism which may 
approach, but does not reach the real heart of the subject. That 
heart is in my opinion a purely religious one. The ultimate aim of the 
whole movement is to afford earnest minds in this age of doubt and 
stress some method of gaining a knowledge of our duties and our 
destiny which shall be disassociated from outworn observances and 
conflicting faiths, so that by actual contact with intelligences which 



THE PSYCHIC QUESTION AS I SEE IT 23 

are above our own we may pick our path more easily amid the morass 
of Religion. The ultimate result will be the union of Science with 
Religion, and such an increase of inspired knowledge as will lift 
humanity on to a higher plane and send it reassured and comforted 
upon its further journey into the unknown. 

15, Buckingham Palace Mansions, S. W. 
London, England. 



ABBEY HOUSE, 
2, VICTORIA STREET, 
WESTMINSTER, 
LONDON, S. W. 1, 
December 11, 1926. 

DR. CARL MURCHISON, 

CLARK UNIVERSITY, 

WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS. 

DEAR SIR: 

Professor Jastrow is credited in the papers with two assertions about my 
views which are inaccurate. The one is that I have shown photographs 
(psychic) which were not genuine. This is entirely untrue. Of all the 
photographs I have shown (hundreds in number) the only one I ever 
showed which was questioned was one I showed with reservations at the 
time once in New York. Dr. Prince assured me that it was not reliable and 
as it was from an American source I took his word and withdrew it. I 
challenge Professor Jastrow to mention any other photograph of mine 
which has not held its own. 

As to his story that the fairy photographs of Cottingley were taken from 
a magazine what he must mean is that they were reproduced in a magazine. 
Otherwise his statement has no sense at all. The photographs have met all 
criticism, the honesty of the young girls has been vindicated, and every ex- 
pert who has examined the negatives has testified to their reality. It is Dr. 
Jastrow who shows extraordinary credulity in accepting such stories. As 
to his attack on Richet well! 

Yours sincerely, 
(Signed) A. CONAN DOYLE. 



CHAPTER III 
THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 



BY FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 



Every man commencing a specialised line of research must adopt 
a working hypothesis however simple as a guide to his experimental 
work. He must inevitably begin by laying down certain postulates, 
derived either from observation or from intuitive recognition. They 
may be matters of personal faith. But they must be such as will 
best cover the facts as he knows them. The working hypothesis he 
must be ready to alter and extend as his facts accumulate, or even 
to discard altogether if needed, without regard for his preferences. 
He must seek positive conclusions and beware of building upon any 
other. He must never generalise from negative results. At all 
stages he must be fortified by fact. An ounce of fact is worth a ton 
of theory; the establishing of one indubitable case of an affirmative 
nature will, in theory, eliminate all negative conclusions. But in 
practice the superior value of cumulative evidence must always be 
borne in mind. 

Pragmatism has been defined as a school of philosophic thought 
which emphasizes practical consequences as tests for determining 
truth of philosophic conceptions. It claims that all thought is 
purposive and personal and that no knowledge is determined exclu- 
sively by abstract considerations. This philosophy is connected with 
Religion as justifying the will to Believe. Humanism is defined 
as the application of the pragmatic method to all the sciences.* 

I propose to give a succinct account of those experiments in 
psychic research which have spread over the past nineteen years and 
have happily enabled me to construct a working hypothesis which 
seems to cover all the facts. I have applied the pragmatic method 
to demonstrate the permanence and indestructibility of Mind, 
Memory, and Personality or Character, together with the inde- 
pendence of Mind and its direct action upon Matter. From my 
experiments I have deduced a philosophy which differs only from 



*Stoke8, Encycl. 1914 cd. 



26 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

the tenets of the Pragmatists as above defined in that I find that 
all Thought is not personal in the individual sense, but may be 
collective; and that this collective Thought is the vehicle of a more 
comprehensive Intelligence responsive to the sympathetic action of 
the group of lesser unitary intelligences which function collectively 
as its vehicle. 

This hypothesis admits of the perfect co-ordination of individual 
minds and wills acting in attunement, to the control of super-mind. 
It gives a new and wider meaning to the phrase esprit de corps. 
Human organizations for various ends, religious, social, political, if 
functioning with harmony of aim and method, are apt to generate 
an intrinsic over-ruling spirit which is stronger by far than the 
reflection of itself in its individual units. Yet in proportion as the 
component individuals bend their will and mentality to the Purpose 
of the organization, so do they not only vivify the Spirit of the Group, 
or Genius of that organization, but they receive each one a charac- 
teristic reinforcement without the loss of their own proper per- 
sonality but rather with gain thereto. 

It is but the law of individual man's complex personality acting 
through a more extended order of being. The monadic theory of 
Leibnitz, which affirms a complex structure for the mind or per- 
sonality of the individual, has its analogies everywhere in Nature 
from the chemical atom to the stellar nucleus, and, in human 
society, from the family up through more complex grades of associa- 
tion to the State, the Church, or the Nation. So may it well be 
with the personality of the individual. In that personality are 
elements of countless multitude and variety, racial, ancestral, per- 
sonal also. Yet these are not to be regarded as necessarily his or 
her exclusive and inalienable possession. Some are loosely welded; 
some are not harmonious with others. There may indeed be sharp 
antagonism between them. In thinking otherwise as if these ele- 
ments were a true or permanent unit of individual being lies the 
great heresy of the "subconscious mind" as popularly or vulgarly 
conceived. Let us extend the idea of multiple personality as shown 
in abnormal states of dissociation as in the succession of diverse 
moods in the individual and we get a view of the possibilities of 
change in grouping and in the development of character in an evolu- 
tionary sense which no other hypothesis seems to account for so 
rationally as does that which Leibnitz advanced. 

The impress of a strong personality upon others in his environ- 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 27 

ment can be well understood in the light of a sympathetic sharing 
of certain monadic constituents in the galaxy of each. 

The nature of spiritualistic "guides" and "controls" is readily ac- 
counted for if we regard them as subconsciously members of the 
group outlying members it may be which is controlled primarily 
by the normal waking intelligence and will of the subject. That is 
to say, there is some link of mental, moral, or emotional sympathy 
subsisting between the subject and the controlling entity which is 
able to declare itself through the passive medium of the subliminal 
vehicle of association. 

The way in which these remoter personal elements manifest them- 
selves may be not inaptly compared to the radiations of human 
speech and music which after almost infinite attenuation may be 
picked up anywhere by a properly constituted receiver and again 
reinforced until their original power and character of tone is repro- 
duced and actually amplified. 

In Boston at Christmas I heard, loud and clear, across the whole 
breadth of the public gardens, a well known hymn beautifully played 
as I thought by a band on the further side. I was astonished to 
learn on the Monday that the band was playing some hundreds of 
miles away. The power of the original vibrations was multiplied 
fourfold in its penetrative quality, and without loss of delicacy or 
any essential quality or clearness. 

It is not tenable then that through the all-enfolding vehicle of 
subliminal Mind and Memory there may come to our individual 
minds whispers from across the void which stretches between the 
moment of attention that we call the Present and that greater field 
of thought and experience which we term the Past? Can we not 
imagine how these tenuous links may be revived and amplified in 
their turn until the link becomes vivid and vital with the colours 
of reality? 

The phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychometry, and the 
myriad other modes of communication will fall into their place as 
manifestations of that radiant activity of Mind which is ever im- 
pinging upon the structure of the brain and leaving its impress in 
the stimulation of creative Idea which, when once awakened in one 
mind, may be imparted to others capable of a kindred vibratory 
response. 

If A and B are separate and discrete personalities, self-contained 
and mutually exclusive, it is impossible to conceive the nature of the 



28 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

process by which Thought and Will are transferred from the one 
to the other across that barrier which, it is assumed, divides the two 
Egos. But if A and B are regarded as responsible heads of two 
complex organizations within each of which are members common 
to both and in sympathy with the policy and purpose of each, then 
we have a foundation in thought on which we can bridge the gulf 
of Personality. 

Every individual who controls his psychic organization has a radi- 
ating influence and may attract to himself by sympathetic thought 
other monadic entities through the reinforcement of common sublimi- 
nal elements of thought; just as the chemical atom may take up an 
extra ion or ions and harmonize their activities with those of its own 
group, changing its nature and general reactions through this acces- 
sion. In like manner, we as personalities, makers of our souls, are 
in spiritual flux, absorbing parts of the personality of others and 
assimilating these with our own, thus tending to bring nearer to 
realization in ourselves the symmetrical fulfilment of an archetypal 
design of which our present personalities are but the merest outlines, 
sketches, crude and inchoate. 

We now obtain a glimpse of a more intelligible foundation on 
which to build our ideas of that mysterious entity the subliminal 
mind, which has been so fruitful a source of misconception by hasty 
and shallow thinkers. There is still a tendency on the part of new 
recruits to psychical research to adopt this term as explanatory of 
all the obscure phenomena of a mental order in the various phases of 
mediumship. With these and also in the case of others who should 
know better, this hypothetical formula, which explains nothing and 
may mean anything, is held sufficient to elucidate all. It needs no 
discussion as it is in itself held to be an answer to all argument. 
From a mere formal hypothesis it has come to assume the authority 
of a dogma or article of faith. 

Such superficial exponents of psychical facts are apt to look only 
at that class of phenomena for which the submerged memories and 
fugitive brain-impressions of the subject can offer a sufficient explana- 
tion. It is not denied that any impress once received by the mind 
or through the senses is permanently recorded by the brain and may 
be recalled later automatically or in a hypnotic or semi-hypnotic 
state. But the facts of psychometry or "metagnomy" in which the 
subject gleans knowledge from some mute object, as well as those 
attending clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance-speaking and automatic 



THB PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 29 

writing, must be taken into account and these are not covered at all 
by the theory of latent impressions. 

THE SPIRITIST HYPOTHESIS 

The hypothesis which attributes all psychical phenomena to the 
action of "spirits" that is to say, to discarnate human souls, is one 
which may legitimately be held by the scientific enquirer so far as 
it covers the facts observed. But it is open to certain objections, 
and although men of science will admit it as a working hypothesis 
they will continue to view it critically and will refuse to build 
upon it conclusions which outrun the evidence. Preference and 
prejudice must be equally set aside for in this enquiry there is room 
for neither. It is unfortunate that the spiritualist question has 
been disfigured by both. The subject must be handled dispassion- 
ately and without emotion, though from its very nature this may be 
far more difficult than in other branches of philosophical enquiry. 

Why, we may ask, is it that men of standing in psychical or 
metapsychical learning will generally prefer any other theory to 
the spiritualistic? Perhaps Mr. Stanley de Brath is right in saying 
"It is an indolent hypothesis: it explains everything in advance, rules 
and exceptions alike . . . We need a hypothesis less falsified by 
moral considerations, by anxiety as to good and evil and by the 
needs of the heart." So far as this judgment implies that the inves- 
tigator does not trust himself to discriminate between scientific values 
on the one hand and moral or emotional values on the other, it 
may be remarked that this implies no intrinsic objection to the 
spiritualist hypothesis as such. From the pragmatist point of view, 
the fact that the spiritualist theory should prove agreeable to the 
moral judgment and should satisfy the needs of the heart would 
be points in its favour. 

But the spiritualist is always under suspicion from the man of 
science as using his hypothesis not as a working hypothesis merely 
but as a creed or faith, and without discrimination or exercise of the 
critical intellectual faculty. This repels the scientific mind and 
makes the qualified investigator shy of the approach. Also it must 
be borne in mind that for many of the phenomena of the seance- 
room there is no need to affirm the action of any "spirit" even 
allowing the use of this questionable term where the activities of the 
"soul" are more obviously manifest. There is perpetual confusion 
here. 



30 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

For some phenomena the animistic theory will cover the facts. 
For example, proofs of the presence of a psychic force capable of 
producing abnormal physical effects are no evidence of the survival 
or immortality of the soul, still less of the presence of "spirit." 
For others again the activity of a living human agent affords an 
explanation. To give an instance from my own experience : During 
a recent sitting for automatic writing in America the name of a 
person known to me, living in England, was written by the hand of 
the medium, with a number of humorous remarks relating to affairs 
in his native town in which I would be interested. The person in 
question was not in my thought at the time and his name was at 
first misspelled, but on identification of the surname, the whole 
signature was correctly written out in a form not unlike his own 
handwriting. Here the assumption is that the agent was asleep 
(it would have been about 3 a. m. in England) and was dreaming 
of me. He had wished early last year to take a trip to America 
and had told me of this. 

To proclaim the "spiritualistic" doctrine in the indiscriminate way 
that some of the leaders of the movement do is but to create disgust 
in the minds of rational enquirers. The spiritualists moreover con- 
fuse purely psychical experience with spiritual values. Facts seem- 
ing to confirm the hypothesis are welcomed. Those of an incon- 
venient nature are blinked. The critical judgment is suspended and 
the needs of the heart become the sole warrant for the validity of 
their faith. The belief in "survival" is lauded as a religion and a 
"New Revelation" is found in the phenomena of the seance-room. 
On the tree of Spiritualism, says Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, all re- 
ligions are grafted. Christianity itself is but one branch of that 
tree. 

If this be so, the pragmatist will demand a proof of the presence 
of real spiritual values. Those of Christianity are recognized. They 
work out in daily life when rightly interpreted and practiced. 
Will spiritualism show fruits equal to these? Here the pragmatist 
comes in and says: "If your doctrine and practice make definitely for 
the mental and spiritual betterment of the race, and are acceptable 
equally to the intellectual and the moral judgment, then your theory 
confirms itself." 

Unfortunately in some cases the spiritualist view and practice 
seem to deprive its adherents of self-reliance and render them too 
readily amenable to advice from the "spirits." It is also an easy 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 31 

paregoric. The habit of intercourse on a commonplace and material 
level whilst dulling the sorrow of separation deprives life of some 
of its deepest emotional values, and by repetition, leaves the devotee 
of this form of intercourse less capable of true spiritual growth and 
effort. A. C. Benson has said, "The sorrow of earth would not be 
sorrow it would have no cleansing power if the parted spirit 
could return at once . . . To meet loss and sorrow upon earth with- 
out either comfort or hope is one of the finest of lessons ... It 
is in the silence of death that its virtue lies." 

To the habitual seeker after the dead, the capacity for poignant 
emotion is reduced to the level of the commonplace. He is on the 
path of that false consolation which is the comfort of the drug-taker. 

A PHILOSOPHIC SCHEME OF THE "SUBLIMINAL" 

I submit a brief outline of the philosophy which has emerged 
from my experience. The framing of the scheme has been assisted 
by many valuable hints given in automatic script during the years 
1918-20. Practical experiment interweaves with the teaching and 
gives it substantial value. Certain principles have had to be pos- 
tulated. These include a recognition of a tripartite constitution in 
Man : ( 1 ) his essential part the spirit linked with the causal 
Mind and Will; (2) the body and its vital forces; (3) the soul, 
a complex entity developed by spirit in its reactions upon the material 
part and variable in quantity and quality alike, controlled on the 
one hand by the spiritual monad and on the other hand exercising 
control over the body and its forces. 

It is also postulated that the spiritual creative power which is 
God eternally seeks more perfect self-expression through His units 
and that He is in process of accomplishing this through increas- 
ing differentiation of those units and the gradual perfecting of ex- 
perience in each one according to their individual modes, the highest 
mode known to us being the evolution of Character or Personality 
in the higher and more permanent sense. 

I have found in the script the following classification of Energy 
which seems illuminating. I have added it to the working scheme. 
The Field of Evolution is the objective and subjective Universe 
alike. The agencies involved are three in number, viz: 

(a). The Energy of Matter which is called the "Will of Mat- 
ter" and which, by its resistance, provides the fulcrum for all the 
evolutionary effort of creative Will. This Energy has a spiritual 



32 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

origin and although set in opposition, it will ultimately yield to the 
control of Mind and Spirit. 

(b). The Energy of Life, which is psychic in its nature and is 
neither purely spiritual nor yet material in its quality, but has 
affinity with both these forms of energy. Life is not an entity but 
an impersonal principle. 

(c). The Energy of Will, Mind, and Purpose, which is always 
an Entity. Mind is a function of Spirit, and is the vehicle of 
Creative Idea. Individual Man is the agent for the acquisition of 
progressive control over the agencies of Life and Matter; but there 
are higher agencies in Collective Mind which are in process of co- 
ordination and are becoming increasingly potent. 

THE SOUL 

It is by the evolution of this third part of Man's being through 
the interaction of the spiritual and material parts that the process 
of subjugation of Matter and Material Energies is brought about, 
for the perfect self-expression of Spirit. This Soul is complex in 
nature and variable in quality and quantity alike: It may be in- 
tegrated with its spiritual Original, creating true Personality; or it 
may be disintegrated in part, forming false personality which may 
either be redeemed from extinction by becoming co-ordinated with 
another spiritual nucleus, or may be re-absorbed and dissolved into 
its constituent elements. The creative scheme knows no waste. 
Souls grow by accretion as well as by evolution of powers. They 
can be welded by co-ordination into companies or communions 
which, in their turn, become the vehicles for the activities of higher 
entities whose will and wisdom is collective and yet individual. 

OBJECTIVE MATTER 

We are to regard Matter in its objective aspect as superficies 
only; a mere boundary or Plane of Resistance between two coun- 
teracting forces of Will. The first product of the operation of this 
conflict of Will in the living organism of Man is the development 
of the Animal Soul. 

We now reach the point at which the general hypothesis can be 
stated in advance of the record of experiment. 

(1). The powers and functions of the Animal Soul are chiefly 
witnessed in primitive peoples. In the higher-developed man they 
are submerged, but survive in a subconscious form. This Animal 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 33 

Soul, or primitive psychic nature is but little individualised, and has 
more the quality of a group-soul, instinctive in its action. 

(2). The second evolutionary product of the Causal Will in 
man is the Material Intellect. This makes for the sharp differentia- 
tion of individuals through contest. For a long while this intel- 
lectual principle is dominant in Man and under its sway the original 
psychic element becomes submerged, and is the subconscious recipient 
of all impressions derived from the intellectual life. 

(3). The Subconscious Entity is not strictly personal, being 
essentially continuous with the whole psychic life of the Race and 
of Nature. It subsists in Man as an individual focus of that wider 
psychic life and is susceptible of impressions derived from that life 
that is to say, from sources other than the personal intellect of the 
subject. The thought and emotion of the Race affect it constantly 
through sympathetic reaction and response. 

THE SUBCONSCIOUS AS A CONNECTIVE MEDIUM 

Man as an intellectual personality with a subliminal psychic stra- 
tum involved deeply in his being, is thus necessarily linked with all 
other intelligent personalities through the "continuum" of the sub- 
conscious Mind and it is only through this medium that he can 
obtain genuine recognition of any personality other than his own. 
Intellect has evolved a series of external symbols of recognition 
such as Language, Gesture, and other sensory modes of communica- 
tion, but these convey no sense of reality except in so far as they 
can be recognized as genuine symbols of what they purport to rep- 
resent. The concept of Reality in the contact of personalities is 
attained only through the subconscious region as the sole channel of 
spiritual awareness. In the external contacts alone resides no in- 
herent sense of reality. This is the experience of those in whom the 
interior sense has for a time been closed and also of those in whom 
the interior sensibility is weak or undeveloped. In such it has led to 
the "solipsist" fallacy, and in a few circumstances, to a "logical" 
insanity. 

(4). Material Intellect is now sufficiently evolved in its own 
domain to allow of a stimulating reaction towards the subconscious 
and a strengthening of the link between separated personalities by 
means of a reawakening of the latent psychic nature and its gradual 
elevation towards a union with the intellectual consciousness. This 
process is seen as a natural development in certain persons, and 



34 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

it is marked by the dawning of a psychic consciousness and by the 
emergence of the link between their own true personality and that 
of others whose character or experience may bring them into sym- 
pathetic relation with their own. 

(5). In such individuals, the growth in strength and in scope 
of the activities of their subconscious Entity, and its increase in 
definiteness and power of direction through the association with the 
Intelligent principle, begins to enable them to act through their sub- 
conscious region in a wider environment. Their mental and psychi- 
cal activities are no longer limited to the physical body, but are 
capable of extension for a greater or lesser distance therefrom, both 
in a temporal and a spatial sense. It follows that with such persons 
the control of the psychic elements in their being is making for a 
greater mastery of their environment. The psychic entity is becom- 
ing plastic to the conscious Will. 

(6). As the psychic Entity becomes more obedient and responsive 
it will also be more plastic to influences arising from other sources. 
In the absence of control or direction on the part of the normal or 
waking intelligence, it may be amenable to direction or control by 
any other personality which, through mental or emotional sympathy, 
may be nearly in relation to the subject influenced. Thus another 
mind may acquire temporary control and may speak or act through 
the psychic and physical organism by virtue of the common sub- 
conscious elements which form the sympathetic link. 

(7). The power which enables one personality to manifest his 
presence by speech, writing, or otherwise through the subconscious 
being of another is dependent upon the degree of mental, emotional, 
or volitional sympathy which may subsist between them. In this 
respect the subliminal entity may be compared to the aerial of a 
wireless installation, and the physical side of the phenomenon will 
depend upon the right adjustment or attunement, and the due pas- 
sivity of the brain and body of the medium or "subject." 

(8). Mind, Memory, and Character being (ex hypothesi) 
superior to the physical limitations of Time and Space, it follows 
that the contact of personalities through the subliminal psychic 
region is by no means limited to those of the living, but is equally 
the privilege of those who have escaped the trammels of the bodily life, 

(9). Memory is essentially an act of Spirit. It is not merely 
the mechanical impress or record on the physical brain of impulses 
arising from the daily life, but is essentially an act of recognition, 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 35 

and of voluntary recognition. The Memory of a Personality, if 
sufficiently strong, is therefore an actual approach to the points of 
contact with that personality; and such approach may become the 
basis of a new mutual experience and association. 

(10). The nexus or link between two or more separate per- 
sonalities is effected through the subconscious psychic region, but the 
recognition is in itself an act of Spirit of the higher Mind in the 
aspect of Consciousness of Reality or of Underlying Unity. The 
law of communion is Sympathetic Action and Reaction of Mind 
with Mind, Memory with Memory, and Character with Character. 

THE TREND OF THE NEW CO-ORDINATION 

The Science of the future is Psychic Science or the Science of the 
Soul. It may be defined as the exploration of the subliminal re- 
gions of Man's being in the light of his spiritual Reason, the Intel- 
lectual power illuminated by intuition. Its work is the harmonising 
arid control of the powers and faculties of this part of his being 
by the dominant Reason and Intelligence. The task of its students 
will be to acquire conscious control of this region, to understand its 
laws, and to lay hold of the immense privileges it offers in an evolu- 
tionary sense. The promise is that our evolution as a community 
on earth will by this means be directed in a course controlled by a 
new co-ordinating power derived from the intuitive recognition of 
all that the Past can teach. The dynamic power of Thought and its 
yet undeveloped capacity for directly influencing Matter through the 
psychic channels of control will be a part of this task. 

The need for the co-ordination of the psychic part of man with 
the intellectual is pressing. Only by the opening of the channels of 
Intuitive Wisdom the realization of the higher and collective 
Knowledge which is the fruit of the racial experience can the mass 
of present-day learning be unified, clarified, and built into a sym- 
metric structure leading to further constructive achievement. The 
gifts of Higher Intelligence, Genius, Inspiration, the assimilated 
Wisdom of the ages spiritually directed, can alone stabilize the 
fabric of our terrestrial knowledge and build our civilization that-is- 
to-be upon a permanent basis. 

Underlying all must come the recognition of the spiritual Unity 
of Mankind. This recognition of Spiritual Unity, embodied in 
our philosophy of the Subconscious or Subliminal, and in our future 
Science of the Soul, decrees a humanistic foundation for all effort 



36 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

and a constructive purpose which will inevitably ally itself more and 
more consciously with the evolutionary Plan of the Parent Mind. 

Broadly speaking, therefore, I have arrived at the conclusion that 
the Subconscious part of us is personal only in a limited sense;* that 
it is more largely racial and ancestral; and that it is the field of in- 
numerable contacts with Mind and Personality other than our own ; 
these personalities impressing us through the subconscious by sym- 
pathetic mental or emotional action. 

In this sense, which is that of a channel, it may be said that the 
subconscious strata of our being contain the germs of all per- 
sonality, all human experience, the accumulated record of man's 
thought and work throughout the aeon of his racial life and develop- 
ment, and that any one of these clues may be strengthened or 'drawn 
home' by sympathetic action. It is a somewhat startling conclusion 
but it covers, I find, all the phenomena of mental life and psychic 
activities including those of the order known commonly as spiritual- 
istic. 

Further, the science of the future must, according to this view, 
take up the task of the Integration of the Subconscious with the In- 
tellectual and this is the Building of the Soul. 

One corollary of the view here advanced is that the sympathetic 
union and collective activity of Mind and Mind would be present in 
a far greater degree among those personalities who are no longer 
trammelled by the isolating influence of the physical organism, and 
the limitations of sensory and brain perception. In other words, 
Death of the body would imply increased freedom of association 
between the minds of those whose thought is in sympathetic accord. 
Hence we should except a collective voice and a collective memory as 
being characteristic of any communications from minds in the liberated 
spheres of human consciousness beyond bodily death. This is but 
an affirmation of what the Church has always implied in her doctrine 
of the Communion of the Saints, the Church Invisible, the great 
Cloud of Witnesses. 

THE PRAGMATIC TEST 

There are two methods of approach towards a solution of the 
problem of the survival and persistence of Mind, Memory and Per- 
sonality. One is through the objective phenomena of Psychism, mis- 



*Chiefly as the storehouse of all impressions derived from the waking 
experience. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 37 

called Spiritualism; into which class fall all those experiences which 
recall the external symbols or tokens of deceased earth-personality. 
Spiritual values may and do accompany these phenomena but in them- 
selves they do not belong to that category. 

The other approach is by means of the subjective phenomena of 
Mind and here we seek proof of the indestructibility of Mind by an 
appeal to those interior links of which I have spoken. The question 
then arises: What kind of proof shall we seek as being satisfactory 
and conclusive? 

The phenomena fall into several classes. There is first the broad 
basis of Telepathy or Thought-transference on which we can build 
as a foundation. But this, although it shows the action of Mind on 
Mind as apart from the physical organism, does not so clearly suggest 
that Mind can act after the body is dead and the brain-organism 
dissolved. 

Next there is a large range of phenomena connected with what 
has been known as Psychometry the faculty of reading impressions 
derived from objects. These impressions are sometimes very vivid 
and portray visually certain scenes and events in the history and as- 
sociations of the object in question. They seem to demonstrate that 
every object made or handled by man does in some way unknown to 
us retain the impress of his personality and that however faint this 
impress may be, it can be evoked and amplified to an indefinite ex- 
tent, just as the much attenuated etheric radiations may be caught, 
recorded and amplified until the original strength and volume of the 
voice that generated them is reproduced. 

A theory has been put forward under the title Metagnomy, for 
the explanation of this. The word simply implies an extended faculty 
of knowledge and thus in itself explains nothing, being only a formula. 

But if through the channel of the subconscious mind, the impress 
of personality inherent in the lifeless object becomes attuned to the 
thought of the original personality which generated this impress, then 
the delicate recording instrument of the psychic sensitive may register 
and amplify its vibrations with the result that a memory of the past 
is brought into living contact with the present ; the original personality 
being recalled into its first association with the object. 

A third class of mental phenomena is found in the records of clair- 
audience, clairvoyance and inspirational writing and drawing. One 
order of the writing in this class is involuntary and unconsciously 
produced. The evidence for the survival of Mind, Memory, and 



38 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

Personality offered by such phenomena as these would be conclusive 
only if the information or knowledge conveyed by their means proved 
to be 

(a) Not within the memory or experience of any living person. 

(b) Not accessible in any printed or written work. 

(c) Exactly verifiable from some source outside living knowledge, 
(e. g. by excavation.) 

This is the character of the proof sought by me of the operation 
of discarnate Mind and Memory. With these, the element of Per- 
sonality always consistently associates itself and cannot be dissected 
from them. In the written communications collected by me since 
1908 the constant claim is made that Thought persists and Memory 
also in proportion as the mental sympathies of those who speak are 
still bound by the ancient ties of earth-memory : and that it is entirely 
through our own sympathetic thought that they are re-evoked and 
recalled in their old-time vividness. 

SPECIFICATION OF TESTS REQUIRED UNDER HEAD (c). 

It is obvious that the mere fact that knowledge supernormally con- 
veyed is not within living memory or accessible in documentary form, 
cannot be of the smallest utility in proving the survival of Mind and 
Memory, since it is in its nature incapable of verification. Therefore 
any proofs coming only under heads (a) and (b) are discarded as 
evidence. 

There remain a small group of tests which will satisfy all three 
conditions. These I make as follows: others may suggest possible 
additions to the list. 

(1) Proof from Burled Antiquities. In such cases the material 
witness of the knowledge supernormally given is revealed 
by excavation (anacalypsis). 

(2) Proof by Fulfilment. As of predictions of coming events. 

(3) Proof by Translation of Unknown Tongues. When a pas- 
sage from an unknown language, living or dead, is given su- 
pernormally together with a translation of the same after- 
wards verified as accurate. 

If incontestable evidence of either or all of the above three species 
of proof be offered, it is difficult to see how the conclusion can be 
avoided that it is the work of some independent mentality possessing 
conscious knowledge extending beyond the human sphere, and its tem- 
poral and spatial limitations. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 39 

I now offer certain examples of test communications falling under 
these three heads. These are necessarily given in a summarised form, 
the principal points only being elaborated. They do not stand alone. 
I have taken every care to authenticate them and the fuller record 
will be found in my works 'The Gate of Remembrance', 'The Hill 
of Vision/ and 'The Company of Avalon'.* 

I 

PROOF FROM BURIED ANTIQUITIES 

In 1907 I, as an ecclesiastical architect and antiquary, took up the 
study of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, the site of the traditional 
first Christian mission to Britain in apostolic times. Such a site 
might be deemed most promising for the locus of a psychical enquiry 
since it has a vivid and inspiring record of some 1500 years of 
religious history and tradition from the first to the sixteenth century. 
For a year or so, until November 1907, I had stored my mind with 
details of the architectural history by the study of documents available 
and the views of learned antiquaries. The story of the ruins as given 
in the all too scanty remnants was the object of my care. 

With me was associated a friend (called in my book John Alleyne). 
We had this interest in common and also an interest in psychic re- 
search. I had for some time been a member of the London Society 
and was desirous of contributing to its work. Mr. Alleyne had 
told me that some time previously he had had a curious experience. 
His right hand had been seized with a sort of cramp and he had felt 
the urge to take a pencil. His hand then wrote spasmodically in 
small characters on any available sheets of paper. The writing was 
difficult to decipher but turned out to be a message or instruction of 
interest to his family, and this was of a veridical nature, leading to 
the identification of certain valuable papers. 

I tested his 'psychometric' powers by an experiment in a deserted 
house in Clifton, Bristol, reputed to be haunted, and obtained *a 
curious story which I afterwards verified in four several particulars 
from an entry in a newspaper of 1797 preserved in the Free Library 
at Bristol. I thus found that he was sensitive to the influence of old 
places. 

There was at that date no suggestion of the 'radio* and its remark- 
able powers, or I should have had an excellent analogy upon which to 



*To be obtained from the Old Corner Book Store, Boston, Mass. 



40 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

base my ideas of the mental process at work. But the facts of tele- 
pathy were well established and I believed that that the association 
of two minds bent upon the same quest would ensure a reinforcement 
of any power of memory-reading at work. 

I considered that our reading and researches at Glastonbury might 
have led to certain subconscious conclusions with regard to facts we 
had noted but from which we had failed to educe any theory as to 
the nature and position of missing portions of the Abbey fabric, 
owing to the scanty amount of information in the records and the 
contradictory nature of the views held by leading archaeologists over 
the last half-century with regard to these. 

I therefore proposed to attempt to gain information as to the lost 
features of the Abbey by the use of this involuntary writing and I 
suggested that I should give my friend the pencil and lay my own 
hand over his during any writing that might come. 

I wish here to state positively that the documents at our disposal 
at this time and during the following period of excavation were only 
those that had been equally accessible to all other students. I say 
this because it has been falsely alleged that we were in possession of 
a knowledge of documents not hitherto accessible, in which the 
position and dimensions of these lost features of the Abbey were 
given*. 

The first passage written in this joint experiment was as follows. 
It is the keynote of all that came after. 

"All Knowledge is eternal and is available to mental sympathy". 

This suggested the idea of a species of telepathic action between 
minds of the living and some kind of storehouse or treasury of past 
knowledge. I perceived that this might operate through some law of 
sympathetic vibration akin to the harmonic laws which govern music 
and other rhythmic activities. Thought might well be undulatory 
and it would be a question only of mental attunement. This governed 
my subsequent attitude. 

From the first, a note of Personality came into the writing. The 
communicating intelligence used the personal pronoun. He wrote: 

"I was not in sympathy with monks. I cannot find a monk yet". 

But he promptly found one for us. This suggested a highly or- 



*See the Editorial apology in the 'Month' (English Catholic monthly) for 
July 1920, following the article by Leslie Moore in the May issue for same 
year. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 41 

ganiscd knowledge classified in departments mutually connected but 
widely diversified in sympathy. 

There followed a rough drawing, showing, at the extreme east end 
of the Abbey choir, a long rectangular building. A script in monkish 
Latin followed which stated that this was the Chapel of King Edgar 
and that it was thirty yards in length. The statement seemed out- 
rageous at first, as the existence of any such chapel at this point had 
been denied categorically in 1904 by Mr. Hope, Secretary of the 
Society of Antiquaries of London (later Sir Wm. Hope), and his 
decision, based as it was upon excavation made in that year, had been 
regarded as final and conclusive. 

Other antiquaries had different views as to the site of the Edgar 
Chapel, for the existence of which we have or had then but one 
authentic document, to wit, Leland's note, which said: 

"Abbot Bere builded Edgar's Chapel at the east end of the church 
and Abbot Whiting performed some part of it". 

Professor Willis had considered this to mean the east end of the 
choir and his plan shows an extension here of some fifteen feet for 
the chapel in question. Others followed Mr. James Parker, who 
marked the chapel as being in the south transept, to the east of the 
crossing. He cites a good authority for his view. But our script 
with its 90 foot extension is revolutionary and upsets them all. 

My plan then was to refer back to documents already studied in 
order to discover whether the script threw any light upon them. It 
did so. There was one printed document which all had studied, and 
all had in turn discarded as valueless. I had done the same. But 
the script revealed a vital misinterpretation of the very obscure word- 
ing of this document and in the light of the script its meaning became 
clear. 

Many more writings were obtained during the early months of 
the year 1908 and the detailed dimensions of the two parts of the 
chapel successively built by Abbots Bere and Whiting were given 
together with descriptions of its form and architectural character. 

Permission to excavate as Director on behalf of the Somerset 
Archaelogical Society was accorded me in May 1908 and I com- 
menced the work in June. During the summer the whole extent of 
a rectangular chapel was exhumed and proved to correspond in all 
essential respects with what had been stated in the script. It was 
of four divisions. The total breadth was about eight per cent short of 
the measure (34 feet) given in the script but on the buttresses this 



42 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

would have been greater, and we have nothing left of the super- 
structure only the rough foundations being still in place. 

On measuring the length of the rectangular chapel I found it to be 
six inches short of seventy-two feet and on referring back to the 
script produced in February and March 1908 I noted that this 
dimension had been given for the part of the chapel laid down by 
Abbot Richard Bere. No further extension however was visible in 
the high bank of clay to the east of the excavation. I decided to seek 
furthei in the following year, as the script indicated an eastward 
extension with angular walls added by the last Abbot, Richard 
Whiting. I drew a conjectural plan of such presumed addition and 
published it in December, 1908, suggesting a polygonal apse. This 
publication was made in three ways : in the form of a printed appeal 
for funds; in the Christmas number of the 'Treasury' (a Church of 
England magazine) ; and in the first Annual Report of my excava- 
tions for the Somerset Society. The script was submitted to several 
friends including Mr. Everard Feilding, then Secretary of the Society 
for Psychical Research, but as it was not practicable to mix archaeolo- 
gy with psychic enquiry, I withheld knowledge of the script from any 
official document. Had I not done this, my term of excavation would 
have ceased very shortly in view of the unready state of public opinion 
and the feeling in the Church which was now the owner of the Abbey. 

But I was able to construct a good argumentative case for the fur- 
ther excavation I wished to make, and early in 1909 I explored the 
ground to the east, finding to my great satisfaction the remains of 
the two angular walls and the gap at the extreme east where the 
script had specified that there was an opening in the wall. The foun- 
dations were examined and duly reported on by my Committee and 
the whole area of the walls of the chapel leveled and rendered per- 
manently visible. 

I again emphasize the fact that all through this time I was not in 
possession of any documentary knowledge which had not been in 
the hands of the older antiquaries. I would impress upon critics the 
fact that sixty years of argument and debate, culminating in Mr. 
Hope's negative finding, had not brought any elucidation of the 
problem. But this was solved by recourse to involuntary writing 
and without the smallest difficulty. Scarcely a spadeful of earth 
was wasted in the process. 

It was not until nearly two years after the discovery of the Edgar 
Chapel that an XVIII century MS plan came to light in the lumber- 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 



43 



10 f O 10 10 >0 40 fo 60 7* * 
U U^ U-l I 1=1 




(I) 




(3D 




GLASTONBURY ABBEY 

THE EDGAR CHAPEL 

KEY TO -DIAGRAMS 

I Plan of East End according to Mr. Harold Brakspear, F.S.A. 
II Ditto according to Sir Wm. St. John Hope. (1904 Proc. Royal Arch. 

Inst.) 
Ill (a) Plan of Bere's 72 ft. Chapel as discovered 1908, with conjectural 

extension (aspidal) published in December, 1908. 
Ill (b) Foundations of aspidal extension, discovered early in 1909. 



44 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

room of an old Somerset family. This on examination showed a 
small outline plan of the Abbey as it was, say, about the year 1770. 
An extension with broken lines to the east was roughly indicated and 
the parts numbered. On reference to the table, the number attached 
to this part was found to be described as 

"The Chapel of King Edgar's Chapel. 87 ft. long". The 87 feet 
tallied with the 90 (as inside to outside measure.) This Plan, now 
known as the 'Sale Plan,' has been acquired by the Somerset Society 
and is now hung on their Museum walls. 

I (b). 

There was another chapel whose site was lost. Here again the 
only record was a note by Leland made about 1534. He said that 

"Abbot Bere, coming from his embassy in Italy, built a Chapel of 
Our Lady of Loretto, joining to the north side of the bodies of the 
Church." 

This was taken to mean that the chapel had been attached to the 
north side of the nave ; but for many generations it had been believed 
that the surviving chapel in the north transept was the Loretto and 
no one had troubled to dispute this. A note in Dugdale's Monasticon 
seemed to confirm the idea. 

In 1910 (Sept.) another old MS came to light. It is the diary 
of a schoolmaster of the time of Geo. II. In it is a very rough sketch 
of the ruins and a slight indication of ruined stonework on the north 
side of the nave. Following an inspection of this MS I searched in 
the year following along the line of the buried footings of the north 
wall of the nave to see if I could find any sign of an attached build- 
ing, of this nature. Finding none, I cut two short trenches into a 
grass bank on the north side but discovered no traces of a wall and 
there I left the matter. 

After some further excavation in other directions in 1912 nothing 
more was done for some years, as the war supervened in 1914. In 
1916, finding myself among the unemployed professional class, I de- 
cided to write up the story of the Edgar Chapel and its discovery in 
1908 by aid of 'automatic* writing. I invited John Alleyne to sit 
with me to see if we could get any further matter of interest, and he 
agreed. The Loretto Chapel was not an object of enquiry, though 
I must have had a subconscious wish that I had been able to locate 
this, and I had still a feeling that it must have been somewhere on 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 45 

the north side of the nave. But it was not uppermost in my thought. 
Judge then of my surprise when my friend's hand wrote : 

"You did not go far enough into the bank cast up there 

"It was full five feet in..." 

John Alleyne seemed totally unaware of the meaning of this 
reference. But it soon became clear that it was actually the Loretto 
Chapel that was being spoken of. I was told that Bere travelling 
from Padua to Rome on his embassy from the King to the Pope had 
been attacked by bandits. His mule slipped and he was falling down 
a precipitous place, when he called on Our Lady to help him and lo! 
his cloak caught on a thornbush and he was saved. Then he vowed 
that on his return home he would build a votive chapel to Our Lady 
of Loretto. This Chapel the script said was built in the Italian style, 
being the first of the kind erected in England. It was drawn and 
detailed for us. Its measures were given as being 40 feet by 20 or 21, 
and the strange statement was made that it was not (as Leland's 
description seemed to imply) actually attached to the nave wall on 
the north, but as much as thirty-one and a half feet away from the 
nave to the north. 

This assurance, seeming as it did, to contradict the record of that 
eminent and careful antiquary, Leland, was staggering. Nevertheless 
I decided to publish all that was given, together with a plan showing 
my interpretation of the script and I told the whole story in the 
"Gate of Remembrance" which appeared first in the early days of 
1918. 

I was unable to take any steps towards verification until the late 
summer of 1919 when the Trustees decided to allow excavation to 
continue. But as soon as I received permission to dig, I sunk a shaft 
into the bank five feet from the edge and came right upon a mass of 
stonework which I had missed by only a short distance when I cut 
into the soil in 1911. 

During that season and the following (1919-1920) I was able to 
open up almost the whole circuit of a building which appeared to 
have been demolished to the very foundations. A small part of the 
east end, being under a tree was left unexplored, but I had the key 
of the measures and they indicated that the superstructure would 
have been as nearly as possible 40 ft. by 20. The distance east of the 
transept was claimed by the script to have been ten feet, by a covered 
way (via claustra) between the two. I found the foundation of the 
cloistral space. It ran alongside the transept wall and the little 



46 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

chapel led out of it on the west. The width was as nearly as I could 
estimate ten feet. But the most astonishing feature of the whole 
affair was the discovery that the southern wall of the chapel was 
indeed, as the script said, thirty-one and a half feet to the north 
of the nave aisle. The memories in this case were singularly per- 
fect and there is no document existing known to antiquaries which 
could give the slightest indication of any of these details. The chapel 
walls having been demolished down to the floor-line and all archi- 
tectural detail swept away I was hard put to it to verify the state- 
ment that the style was Italian. But the only, small fragment of an 
architectural nature which I found was the pendant of a small niche- 
canopy and this was distinctly of a Renaissance type. The script as- 
serts that the carved fragments are thrown on a heap ten feet to the 
north. It has so far been impossible to excavate there but I hope 
some day to do so. 

In this episode the choice of the subject was so entirely outside the 
scope of my intention that I was impressed more fully than ever 
of the presence of a directive and selective intelligence in the giving 
of this story. 

I (c). 

In 1921 I received script from two new sources. In neither case 
did the writer or writers claim any knowledge of Glastonbury Abbey. 
One was a lady living near Winchester, a devout Churchwoman who 
had been a parish worker in her district for some years. She had 
glanced at the 'Gate of Remembrance* and had been attracted by the 
psychic side of the story. Shortly afterwards she began to get spon- 
taneous writing. It purported to come from monks of Glastonbury 
and Winchester Priory of the XII century, and was directed to me 
as 'hym that seeketh'. I found soon that it was intelligently follow- 
ing much that was in my thoughts in connection with the programme 
of the 1921 excavations. I will give one notable instance of the 
verification of this lady's script. 

On the 27th August, 1921, she posted me a writing obtained on 
the previous day. It alluded to the ancient wooden church which 
occupied the site of the present Lady Chapel before the Great Fire 
of 1184, and it said that the second Norman Abbot, Herlewin (a 
name quite unfamiliar to her and of whose works very little is 
known ) , built a protective stone wall around the wooden walls. She 
got a plan in which this wall was shown in dotted lines, and it ran at 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 47 

a slight slant from the walls of the older chapel, whose axis east and 
west deviated apparently about two degrees of the compass from this 
stone wall. Here is the passage from her script: 

"Now Galfridus speaketh. There be old thegns among our cor- 
rodiers who remember. I mynde them even now. One Gualtier 
ane Normand saw Thurstan Abbas strike our subpryor till he like 
stane on grund lig (lay).* Gualtier knew somewhat of Ecclesia 
Vetusta (the old Church) before Herluin some walle of stane 
outer (outside) of ye walles of Sanct Paulinas, and within a floore 
of symboles and a chasse (shrine), steep and pointed, by Awter on 
sud (south side of altar), for Sanct David hys reliques as thus, 
saith Gualtier Gualtier ne scribere cann. (Gualtier cannot draw). 

(Here follows the plan) The script continues: 

" Herluin Abbas made new wall of stone. I can hit marke . . . 
(the dotted lines follow) Then Henricus Abbas buylded on 
Ecclesia Major somewhat ; began Towre at sud-ouest. Then Robertus 
Abbas came, finished Bell-towre and rooff on great towre a towre 
lowe and broad over parvis of choro . . . " 

The existing Lady Chapel was built just after the fire in 1184. 
No record of any stone-walled building or foundation of such building 
of earlier date on this site has ever, so far as I am aware, been spoken 
of at any time. No warrant then would have existed for the justifi- 
cation of a request on my part for permission to dig here. 

But within five days from the receipt of the script, the Dean of 
Wells, Chairman of the Abbey Trustees, took an idea into his head 
that the ground had risen rather high on the north side of the Lady 
Chapel and that the public would get a better view of the plinth and 
base-courses of the Chapel wall if he had it lowered in level. Accord- 
ingly he, quite on his own initiative, took the Society's men from the 
work that they were doing for me on the North Transept and started 
them on the work of lowering the level of the soil on the north side 
of the Chapel of St. Mary aforesaid. When I visited the ground on 
the 1st September I found them busy. They had sunk the soil a few 
feet in advance of the chapel wall and had already come across a 
piece of masonry of unknown date and character. I told them to 
follow this to the westward, and in the course of the next two days 
they had traced the northern edge of this masonry some thirty feet 
to the west and verified the existence of a broad stone footing wall 



*Words in brackets mine. F.B.B. 



48 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

which must have belonged to a building here dating from before 
1184. I took a friend, Revd. T. S. Lea, D.D., late Vicar of St. 
Austell, to my rooms on the evening of the 1st September (the day 
I first saw the wall) and he initialled and attested the script as being 
in my possession on that date. I pointed out to him the deviation of 
the axis in the script plan, predicted that we might look for this when 
the rest of the wall was opened. This was done, and on measuring 
the distances of its edge from the chapel wall at both ends, the devia- 
tion to the north, going west, was found to be as the little rough plan 
in the script had indicated between one and two degrees of the 
compass. The whole story is told in the "Company of Avalon". 

II 

PROOF BY FULFILMENT 

The same intelligent agency which would appear to have directed 
the series of archaeological proofs, of which I have given these three 
notable examples, seems also to have planned to make the testimony 
more complete in other ways quite foreign to our thought. As early 
as 1907 a passage would here and there be interjected in the current 
of the script which would hint at coming changes, e. g. 

Dec. 30, 1907. 

"The Chapel of Our Lady at Glaston type of spiritual things 
which are not manifest to you. The changes need not alarm you. 
The reconstructions will be more perfect. Let the State fall in ruins 
and the outward garments of faith perish : fear not. 

"For greater things will rise into being great nations and great 
ideals we work for it". 

On the 15th October, 1909 came, without warning or preface, 
the first of three prophecies of the Great War and attendant social 
or political disorders. I give an extract from the script which is 
published in full in the 'Hill of Vision*. 

"Fortuna fuit. Coelum ruit. Labor fruit in aeternum". 

"War horrid war. Mars is king. Brother's blood. Before 
the great Feast of the Christus, the Nazarene, it cometh. The weak 
must suffer; the strong must die. They who are neither will suffer 
and live. Chaos darkness and a new dawn in crimson skies". 

"Not long the conflict. The fury burns fierce and fast; and 
then the calm on a red world . . . Red world ; red Poppies of f orget- 
fulness in the graveyard of the past-and-gone-f or-ever . . . Red 
Poppies in the graveyard, and then red Poppies in the smiling 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 49 

cornfields in the sun. Read, learn and fear not. All Is well and all 
has been ordained". 

July 29, 1911. 

"Britain, arise! That which has been, shall be. New things ap- 
pear, but the Old in new guise shall return. . . What change comes? 
Say, is your Britain of today the same as the Britain of one short 
hundred years ago? When the West shall fall, Britain shall endure. 
The East comes into its heritage in the days to come; and as well 
try to stop the sun as the march of progress" . . . 

"Forget not; so have comfort. She shall endure; but Perfection 
comes through suffering and catastrophe". 

Jan. 27, 1912. 

"Ruat coelum! Self and luxury. Demos rises and would sweep 
away all there is of good and charity. Fear not his swelling gorge, 
He blindly snatches at the fruit and will clutch the empty air ... 
The elements of his ruin are in himself; and after a time and times, 
hq will turn and rend himself and the earth shall be as it was before 
he rose to sprinkle the blood of the just and innocent upon her 
breast." 

Oct. 26, 1912. 

"That which we spoke of, know we. The 'Poppies* cometh be- 
fore the Day of Christ. Note what we have said. 

"Poverty, Hunger, and the War-lust in every land on which lieth 
the shadow of the Cross. They who would be at peace with their 
neighbours shall not be able, for Peace reigns no more. War with 
their neighbours is better than war at home, and so the cause must 
be made for quarrels". 

"Then, when Europe is exhausted, the reign of Asia will com- 
mence, for there the sun is rising. So say we". 

I would call attention to the repeated description of the War that 
is to come, as 'The Day of the Poppies'. No more appropriate sym- 
bol of that great event could have been chosen, as we all know The 
Flanders Poppy is adopted throughout Great Britain as the symbol 
of the sacrifice of her sons and each year, on Armistice Day it is worn 
by all who celebrate that anniversary. The prognostication that the 
whole of Christendom would be involved is also remarkable. It 
indicates a profound understanding of the forces moving among the 
Christian nationalities at the time and the high degree of probability 
amounting to practical certainty that they would all be involved ; for 
this was actually the case as the event proved. 



50 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

I must be content briefly to summarise the later group of pro- 
phetic forecasts given in the script received during the actual war 
period. These are detailed in 'The Hill of Vision*. One was given 
just before Easter 1918 when the Allied cause seemed at its darkest. 
I was not allowed to fall into any pessimistic state of mind. The 
dissolution of the central European combination in the near future 
was affirmed. 

"Watch", said the script, "On Easter Day the tide will turn and 
ebb swiftly and consistently". 

On the Monday, April 1st, the London evening papers came out 
with the headlines: 

"The tide has turned". 

The script of March 29th also said : 

"The very elements will fight on the side of right". 

The Daily Chronicle correspondent's letter published April 2nd 
says : 

"The luck of the weather has turned for about the first time 
that I can call to mind and gone completely against the enemy". 

I was warned that Germany would undertake a new offensive in 
the spring, this movement being a necessity for her to save her from 
stagnation. It would carry her over many of the fair fields of 
France but would end in disaster. And on or about the 26th Aug. 
she would realise that the game was lost and this would be the 
'spiritual' end of the war, though fighting would drag on for some 
time after. 

All happened as foretold. The best military judges have fixed 
the date 26th August as marking the end for Germany. 

I quote from Reuter's despatch as appearing in American news- 
papers : 

ENEMY HAS SIMPLY DISINTEGRATED 

DRAMATIC ERA BEGAN WITH STARTLING 

SUDDENNESS 

London, Aug. 26. 'We have entered the most dramatic era of the 
war with such startling suddenness that it is difficult to realize the 
full extent of its possibilities', says Reuter's correspondent at British 
Headquarters in describing the situation Sunday. 'It is a staggering 
fact that since yesterday morning the enemy has simply disintegrated 
over a considerable zone'. 

Thus the specific assurance given in the script in April was ful- 
filled to the letter four months later. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 51 

A final instance is found in a script obtained by me with John 
Alleyne at Gloucester on the 12th October, 1918. It is given in 
Latin with some grammatical errors which I have ventured to amend 
as they in no way affect the sense and purport of the message. 

"Concilia sapientiae prevalebant. Bellum finitum est. Pax venit 
in cancellis omnibus. Bene volentes in terra jamque scripserunt. 
Venit ad crescentem lunae, pro gloria Dei. Magisterium bene solve- 
bitur in anno D. 1919. 

"Probatus rerum finitus est. Bene fecimus. 

"Via nova operta est vobis. Benedicite". 

This is followed by a jubilant passage in English: 

"In the mists of the spiritual, where Matter mergeth into Spirit, 
ye have traced the silver thread; which follow as a clue for the 
great Mystery of the Infinite. 

"Follow the clue. The gates are opening on a new Dispensation 
wherein Vision shall take the place of Faith and the things which 
have hitherto been unseen shall be open to the spiritual eyes of 
Mankind". 

"Behold, the Majesty of the Lord cometh and is even now in your 
midst: and the Sun of Righteousness shall dispel the clouds which 
cover the face of the earth and the waters". 

"All is done. Glory be to God in Heaven. I, Imperator, have 
spoken ; I, Imperator, here in your midst". 

"Vale, atque vale, atque salve!" 

The prophecy is that peace will come in the waxing of the moon. 
The full moon in October, 1918 was on the 21st, nine days after 
the receipt of the script. The full moon following was on the 19th 
November (18d. 18hr. 16m.) 

The Armistice was declared on the llth November (lid. llh. 
llm.) 

Thus the moon was crescent at the time and just at her first 
quarter. 

Ill 

PROOF FROM TRANSLATION OF UNKNOWN OR UNFAMILIAR TONGUES 

Some of the scripts of the 'Glastonbury' series have been received 
through other hands. A large number have come through the agency 
of an American gentleman known as Philip Lloyd in the two pub- 
lished sections of his work. These are printed as booklets under the 



52 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

title 'The Glastonbury Scripts, Nos. Ill, IV, and VII, but the larger 
part is still unpublished.* 

Philip Lloyd 's interest in the work continences in 1921 after his 
reading of 'The Gate of Remembrance'. He sits with a friend in 
the same manner as I sat with John Alleyne; his friend holding the 
pencil and he, placing his hand over the hand of the writer. The 
writer has no knowledge of any foreign language. Philip Lloyd has 
not studied Latin since his college days (about 1912). He cannot 
now translate Latin nor can he memorise it. He has no acquaintance 
whatever with Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon, or classic Persian yet these are 
among the tongues which are represented in the writing he has ob- 
tained automatically through the hand of his friend K. L. 

In May, 1921, a great friend of his was travelling in Scotland and 
was in lona at the time that a script was received. Philip Lloyd had 
been thinking of this friend, and on the 27th May was led to read 
a book on lona in which the English of a prophecy attributed to St. 
Columba was given thus : 

"In lona of my heart, in lona of my love 
Instead of monks' voices shall be lowing of cows : 
But ere the world shall come to an end, 
lona shall be as it was". 

K. L. the automatist, knew nothing of this book or its contents. 
At 3 p. m. on the same day, May 27th, this passage having been read 
at noon, the following came through K. L.'s hand in answer to his 
question "Are you ready to speak?" 

"Yea. First something that you know, in Gaelic" 
"An I mo cridhe, I mo ghraidh, 

An a ite guth mhanach bidh geum ba; 
Ach mu'n tig saoghal gu crich, 

Bithidh I mar bha". 

This in no way enlightened him. But light came at once when 
his friend's hand immediately wrote the English lines already quoted 
and at the foot of the verses came the words : 

"Thought of your friend in this sacred place your thought of him, 
brings this that you know, through us". 

The proper accents were placed on the letters in the Gaelic as he 
was to find later, but he was at a loss to verify the Gaelic himself 
and in the evening he went to a public library near which his rooms 

*To be had from the Old Corner Book Store, Boston, Mass. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 53 

were. Turning over all the books that he could find on the subject 
he was led to choose one that had never been taken out of the library. 
This was Treholme's "Story of lona". Hunting thro 1 the pages 
he found at the end the same prophecy in Gaelic that had come to 
him, the sole difference being an V in the last line. 

I have secured the punctual attestation of this and all other script 
that has come from this source and am able to say that owing to 
Philip Lloyd's great care, the evidence is flawless from that point of 
view. My sole regret is that so much of the best he has obtained is 
of a private nature and cannot at least for the present be given to 
the public. Occasionally beautiful verse is written and the literary 
excellence of this and some of the prose gives it a certain warrant of 
its own as proof of the superior nature of the Mind-element operating. 

Here is an example. On May 23 Mr, Lloyd read aloud the mat- 
ter on p. 53 of 'The Hill of Vision*. It alludes to the end of the era 
of war between the nations. Immediately the pencil moves and 
writes : 

"Love answ'reth love: in trusting patience wait 
As one who lingers by a garden gate 
Expectant of the day when doubt and woe 
Shall vanish as the fleeting April snow". 

This was written in the space of one minute. 

On the 19th November came part of a life of Zarathustra. This 
was prefaced by four sheets of Persian which he could not well 
transcribe. Neither he nor his friends knew anything about the 
Persian prophet and he does not know a word of Persian. 

The Persian script was given in English characters, but as he did 
not know a word, he did not even attempt to transcribe it but began 
with the English translation of the passage which was given im- 
mediately afterwards. 

The day following he spent at the Library having found Mills's 
translation of the Gathas. But he could not find his passage and be- 
came confused, he says, at the innumerable versions. So he let the 
matter go. Then came Thanksgiving Day and he sat again and 
asked where he might find the Persian. He was told : 

"First Yasna. Thirty-one. Verse eight". 

The next day he went to the Library again but could get little 
help from the card catalogue. By good chance however he met an 
acquaintance who might help him. This man, Mr. W. . . took him 



54 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

up to the Persian room. Here he had but little luck, for although 
he found copies of the Zand Avasta, they were all in Persian charac- 
ters and translated into German. 

After searching for about an hour, and just about to leave the 
room he was led to pick up a small book which had no title on the 
back. It proved to be Mills's translation of the Yasnas into English. 
He turned to the XXXIst and found what is recorded below. 
Then again he started to leave, but for some reason he cannot ex- 
plain, he pulled out a little flat book which turned out to be a 
translation of the XXXIst Yasna itself by Jackson, published in 
1888. It was a better translation and he was much pleased. As the 
Persian text was in Persian characters he did not trouble about it but 
took the translation, and went home. 

The following morning, the 26th November he again went to the 
Library to read the Yasna throughout from the little Jackson edition. 
It opened at the Appendix and there, to his great delight he found 
the Yasnas printed in Persian but in English characters. Feeling 
very happy about this, he copied the eighth verse on the back of an 
envelope and to make a perfect check, he went to his room and got 
out his script, taking it to the rooms of a friend J. R. Together 
they compared copy and script, letter by letter. There was the iden- 
tical passage; only one mistake of one single letter. And the Persian 
script had come at the same high speed as all the rest ! 

I now give the Persian as it came through the hand of K. L. 

"At thwa menghi pauvrim mazcia yazim stoi mananha 
vanheus patarem mananho hyat thwa hem cashmaini hengrabem 
haithim ashahyw damim anheus ahurim shyothnaeshu". 

As given in Jackson (under the title 'A Hymn to Zoroaster), it 
runs thus : 

"At thwa menghi paourvim mazda yezim stoi mananha 
vanheus patarem mananho hyat thwa hem casmaini hengrabem 
haithim asahya damim anheus ahurem syaothanaesu". 

He enquired as to the differences in the spelling and was at once 
told: 

"Yea, Now 'pauvrim' is correct. But it is 'yezim' and should be 
'ye' instead of 'ya'. 

His communicator seems to stand by the other variations, so that 
only one mistake is admitted. 

And now for the relative values of the translations. First I will 
record the translation found in Mills (Gathas, p. 134, v. 8, yasna 31). 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 55 

"Then I thought Thee first, O Mazda, to be adored for the land 
with the Mind; the father of the good Mind, when in the eye I 
seized Thee the veritable establisher of Asha* the Lord of the actions 
of Life (or 'of the .world'). 

Next comes Jackson's translation. This runs as follows: 

"Therefore in the beginning, O Mazda, I conceived Thee in mind 
to be worthy of worship, when I beheld Thee in mine eye as the 
Father of the Good Mind, as the very Founder of Asha, the Law 
of Righteousness, the Lord amid the deeds of Life". 

Lastly, the translation given in the automatic script : 

"When I saw Thee in my eyes, I ever thought of Thee as the First, 

Ahura Mazda : as worthy ever to be worshipped with the Mind ,* 
as the real Father of the good Mind ; as the Creator of Truth and 
the Master of all the actions of the world". 

I venture to think that the last will be thought by many critics to 
be the most simple and beautiful. The use of the word 'Truth' in 
place of the phrases used in the other translations seems to mark a 
superiority. But this translation is not yet identified with any known 
work and the question is : What is its origin ? 

Here is a curious case connecting events on both sides of the 
Atlantic. In November, 1921 being anxious to know more of the 
builders of Glastonbury before the great fire of 1184, I bought of a 
Marylebone bookseller a second-hand 'Life of St. Hugh' of Avalon 
thinking I might find some references in it to his known connection 
with Somerset ecclesiology. In this I was disappointed as it only re- 
ferred to his later career as Bishop of Lincoln. I peeped into the book 
and placed it on my shelves, where it remained unopened for a long 
time. 

About the end of the same year, Philip Lloyd was told that he 
would be given later the life of a prominent person connected with 
the Abbey. Rather more than a year later he was offered the choice 
Marylebone bookseller a second-hand 'Life of St. Hugh' of Avalon, 
He knew nothing of Hugh but inferred from his title 'of Avalon 7 
that he must be a Glastonbury worthy, so he elected to receive this 
script, which was begun in March and was timed to finish by Easter, 
A forecast or schedule of its contents was given and this was faith- 
fully adhered to. It was a fine piece of literature and told much of 
the Abbey building matters and the successive Abbots and their works. 

1 have published it as No. VII of the 'Glastonbury Scripts'. The 



*'Asha' means 'the sanctity of universal law*. 

*. t ^ n 



56 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

scope of the historical knowledge it contains is wonderful; the de- 
scriptions vivid and image-creating. It showed a knowledge of ar- 
chitectural matters of which Mr. Lloyd is entirely ignorant. After 
the completion of the narrative he took a week's rest and was then 
told that there was a further long message to be given. 

There ensued a writing of thirty-four sheets of Latin, given in 
half-an-hour. This was produced without hesitation or pause. The 
title was then written : 

"The Metrical Life of Hugh. A Description of the Cathedral. 
We think* this is translated". 

Mr. Lloyd spent the next day at two big public libraries in the 
vain hope of discovering traces of such a "metrical life*. Then he 
communicated with an Anglican headquarters (educational) and 
found they had no copy. He therefore asked for advice as to how 
to proceed and received this answer : 

"If ye will read each line, we will translate verbally". 

The script was thus rendered into English, the division of the lines 
being first given him. The whole process was witnessed by a friend 
who attests the record. On completion of the transcript of the poem, 
which was 51 lines in length Mr. Lloyd posted me a copy and asked 
me to enquire whether such a work was known. Now comes in 
the merit of my casual purchase in 1921. On again consulting 
this little book I this time turned to the Appendix and there found 
the whole of the Latin of the Metrical Life, altogether 131 lines, 
containing an account of the building of Lincoln Cathedral. Certain 
differences were found in the wording and of these I have made a 
summary. The translation was quite a good one very good con- 
sidering the disjointed way in which it was produced but it differs 
materially in form from either of the known translations which 
I have since discovered. 

The experiments of Dr. Osty have established the reality of super- 
normal cognition of the lives of persons submitted to the percipients. 
He shows that an article touched by the person cognized, even in the 
long past, can awaken the supernormal faculty. This cognition he 
refers to a transcendental plane of thought or mental activity and 
infers a transfer on this plane to the percipient quite other than what 
is generally understood by 'telepathy*. Dr. Osty does not admit ex- 
ternal intelligence. 



*The word 'think' is emphasized in the script. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH M 

It is the opinion of Mr. Stanley de Brath, his translator, that the 
present instances differ sensibly from Dr. Osty's cases. The infor- 
mation is historical, quasi-historical, and literary. The metrical Life 
of Hugh was unknown both consciously and unconsciously to both 
experimenters and in a language unknown to the automatist; the 
translation of the Latin is given in the same way. 

I had not read any of the Metrical Life and although it was in the 
book that I had bought more than a year before, I had not the least 
idea that it was there. The case in Mr. de Brath's opinion is out of 
the category of Dr. Osty's experiments unless these matters can be 
referred to knowledge possessed by me and transferred through my 
letters to the percipient. " However improbable this may seem", he 
says, "it is not impossible, as some of the metagnomic experiments 
prove the mere touch of a letter giving the most complex details 
of the writer's mind ... It is 'metagnosis' supernormal knowledge ; 
not 'metagnomy' supernormal faculty that is here in question. The 
result, rather than the faculty, is the primary fact". 

The association of two persons in these historical communica- 
tions is again to be noted as it was in the case of Mr. Alleyne and 
myself. Mr. Lloyd can get nothing without K. L. and K. L. can 
get nothing without Philip Lloyd. Equally, Mr. Alleyne has never 
produced any consecutive 'Glastonbury' script without myself and 
I have no ability to get a movement of the hand unless some one is 
assisting me. The same has been the case in all my experiments with 
Mrs. Dowden (late Mrs. Travers Smith), in association with whom 
a long and interesting sequence of writings connected with early 
Glastonbury and stretching back into the apostolic times, has ap- 
peared. We did not ask for these ; they have in all cases offered them- 
selves. The last to appear has been a document which claims to be 
the lost Gospel of Philip the Deacon. It is a very fine version and 
full of interest but needs much scholarly attention before it could be 
offered in its entirety to the world. A portion was experimentally 
printed and was submitted for review to the leading English Church 
newspaper which gave it serious attention, the reviewer stating that 
he found it 'a wonderful production reverent, orthodox, edifying, 
and decidedly instructive nevertheless not always convincing'. The 
last I feel sure he was bound to say. 

These scripts are produced at great speeds. That of Mrs. Dowden 
averages 2,200 words an hour and will be consecutive for over half 
an hour. It is far more than the normal literary output. The 



58 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

character of the writing varies. Sometimes it recalls the normal 
handwriting of the automatist; more frequently it is of an entirely 
different character. 

The language and style have always been a source of perplexity to 
the critic. A communication purporting to come from a mediaeval 
source will have a more or less mediaeval flavour imparted and the 
Old English employed will be very mixed and very faulty at times. 
The Latin is distinctly 'queer* in the case of John Alleyne. No 
schoolboy would perpetrate some of the grammatical blunders found. 
With Philip Lloyd we have the purest Latin and no effort at all at 
mediaeval English unless we except certain brief passages in strictly 
correct Anglo-Saxon. The explanation seems to be that there are 
two quite distinct types of mediumship in these writings. In one 
the vocabulary and indeed the whole mechanical part of the commu- 
nication is claimed to be drawn from the subconscious memory of 
the writer or sitter associated ; the ideas alone being supplied by the 
communicating intelligence. These ideas clothe themselves auto- 
matically in the language symbols most appropriate to the mood of the 
communication that can be picked out of the medium's Veil of mem- 
ory*. Nothing we have ever read or heard, they say, is forgotten. 
The most fugitive impression can be revived, and after any lapse of 
years. This permanence of memory is attested in other ways 
notably in the revival of the scroll of life as a complete panorama be- 
fore the eyes of persons drowning or under the influence of anaes- 
thetics. 

In all about ten automatists have developed the 'Glastonbury* as- 
sociations in the writings I have received since 1908. Of these I 
have found four who required my presence and the touch of my 
fingers to establish the special link. They could write freely alone on 
other subjects, but not on this. The latest to manifest the 'Glaston- 
bury* control is 'Margery* the famous physical medium, who bids fair 
to outshine the fame of her physical phenomena by the striking quality 
of her writing. The Johannes control, which was so marked a 
feature of the first scripts of John Alleyne, has manifested spontane- 
ously through four different mediums, the last being 'Margery* who 
knows nothing of the story and has not read my books. Johannes 
came unasked and his coming was a surprise. There is a noticeable 
similarity in the writing of the J. A. Johannes and the 'Margery* 
Johannes. This is a feature of considerable interest and I offer 
readers a specimen of each. The dates are wide apart 1908 and 1927. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 



59 



t/nttnt produces o/ tne haw of 
ry'ii oresenoe of 
finders are touontnt her hand 
fOU similarity to jonannes serif t 




Tor ,; 

/ a(/4? co*e to chter you on. you.. you vitt tap 
eoca ttone 90 it *< tastr 



B'caa you see i 

r ouriea,/C retain* and till tut story tett. Of course *6 
oar UtUe ;oes -ave/i as 

lt is alt tne way you too* at t/unga aaa e/ie df/e tat fait* upon 
it fiuU* it a difference aspect, so ic is vttn *en;tney sonetines $99 
Mings according to tneir titnts - jou wilt nauo a onanoe no to ait 
deep into we nearts of tn ana lay foundations tnat cannot 6e destroy 
.a. tie s/iaU n.aue to ooie later nen tnere ts tore force" "yes" 



I have never real {Av'Qate of tenewrancQ'anJ at quite 
unfanitiar mtn tne "story of tne 



Speciment of Johannes script given through 'Margery.' 



50 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

08 

<urfr"^ 

^. ^AS\ 

[<0 / Wc/>*>j 




t* 

Specimen of Johannes script given through John Alleyne. 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 61 

My object in the instances I have now given has been to demon- 
strate the Persistence of Mind, Memory and Personality, and the 
mode I have chosen for my experimental demonstrations has been the 
subjective one the phenomenon of involuntary writing being the 
particular process selected by me. I have not found it possible to 
give equal attention to the physical or objective phenomena of the 
seance-room but I would remark that these also have their own value 
in Psychic Science and cannot be disregarded. As a whole, however, 
I should judge them far less conclusive as evidence of the actual 
presence of the true personality than the subjective proofs which ex- 
hibit the active working of Mind and Memory in communications 
which have all the marks of careful plan, selection, and direction of 
a highly intelligent nature. 

In concluding my paper I will offer one example of the dynamic 
power of Thought and Suggestion in an experiment made by me to 
test the power of a careful mental suggestion, or mental image to im- 
press itself upon the subconscious psychic entity and through this to 
influence material substance. 

The record of my experiment will be found in ' Psychic Science* 
(see index). During the term of my association with this magazine 
as Editor, I had occasion to study what is known as 'psychic photo- 
graphy* the appearance upon a photographic plate of objects not 
imprinted by any normal process. Eliminating all dubious instances 
and of these I found many I remained satisfied that certain per- 
sons do really possess a power of causing the projection of images 
upon the sensitive surface without any conscious act of their own 
or any knowledge of the process at work. In no case could I satisfy 
myself that such appearances were due to any phantasmal effect out- 
side the camera. 

EXPERIMENT IN THOUGHT- PROJECTION 

Being desirous then of securing, through the instrumentality of a 
known 'medium', the impression of a specific form which should be 
the record of a well-visualised mental picture, I first planned the 
nature of the form to be chosen and then determined the exact posi- 
tion upon the plate which it should hold upon development. 

I drew a diagram of twelve equal squares, four by three, and on 
the left-hand lower corner square I marked the diagonals. This 
diagram I executed on paper and handed as a private memorandum 
to the Principal of the British College of Psychic Science together 



62 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

with a specification of the thought-image which I wished to obtain 
with the help of the medium. This image was to be a perfect circle 
and it must stand exactly over the intersection of the two diagonal 
lines in this particular square chosen. 

The medium was Mrs. Deane, a woman in humble circumstances 
and with little education. In her presence I then drew upon a black- 
board the same diagram enlarged in chalk lines and then I in her 
presence focussed the camera upon the board so that it just filled a 
quarter-plate, 4 ins. by 3 ins. 

I placed in the dark slides three new plates from an unopened 
packet supplied by the College, and I put these successively in the 
camera allowing her merely to hold the closed slides in her hands for 
a minute or so and afterwards to place her hand on the top of the 
camera during exposure of the plates. 

Before this was done, I impressed very deeply upon her mind the 
exact nature and position of the spot I had determined. This I 
reiterated until I felt assured that she had fully grasped and as far 
as possible visualised the form of the circle over the crossed diagonals. 
I then exposed the plates and took them to the dark room where 
I developed them, Mrs. Deane standing by my side. 

On the first plate there came out the lines of the chalk diagram 
alone. The ground was absolutely void of any abnormal mark. On 
the second, a shaded area of irregular outline developed over the 
greater part of the selected square and this shading ran over into 
the margin. On the third plate there came up brilliantly a circular 
spot in the exact position I had specified, and fulfilling all require- 
ments. The three plates were at once exhibited to the College 
authorities and blocks made from them, these being published with 
the full record in the following number of Psychic Science. 

I understand that Dr. Hereward Carrington was partly successful 
in a somewhat similar experiment. It is one of so simple a nature 
.that it should be easy to duplicate it and I urge the desirability of a 
repetition by others. A result of this kind is of no great value as 
evidence so long as it stands alone. But it is one of those which with 
cumulative results would possess the greatest significance for science. 

The human Will evokes energies which act upon Matter. Until 
now this action has been of a mechanical nature and through the use 
and control of the physical forces. By mechanism Man has devised 
means for the increasing subjugation of Nature. But there now be- 
gins to be apparent a further development of powers latent in man's 



THE PRAGMATIST IN PSYCHIC RESEARCH 63 

psychical constitution, powers capable on the one hand of being 
controlled by the acts of Will and Imagination, and able on the other 
hand to affect material conditions without the aid of the physical 
organism or of any mechanical appliance. 

The agent employed is Psychic Substance, a vehicle of force 
dirigible by the Will and yet substantial in the sense that it can 
and does in its turn exercise a dynamic influence upon physical matter, 
and control its particles and its masses by direct association just as the 
forces of electricity and magnetism are observed to do. To the stu- 
dent of Psychic Science, then, there is an imponderable material which 
is plastic to the powers of Mind and Soul, and which, like the field of 
magnetic force around a steel bar or dynamo can attract to itself the 
infinitesimal particles of physical matter, forming from these a pon- 
derable body possessing powers of mechanical control. This psychic 
vehicle has a formative capacity and the forms it generates will be 
fixed or mutable according to the will which animates it. 

Certain living organisms create and emit light. Others are found 
wliich can project an electric current in a given direction. These 
powers evolved for protective purposes are typical of the telekinetic 
potencies which reside in the psychic centres and are merely specific 
instances of a general power which may be exercised in innumerable 
modes and with countless varieties of effect. The whole range of 
phenomena of the seance-room are to be viewed in this light as ex- 
perimental attempts to employ this ultra-physical force in a formative 
as well as a dynamic capacity. The production of Ectoplasm is 
to be regarded in this light, dispassionately as a well-attested fact of 
observation. The intolerant attitude of many enquirers into the sub- 
ject has no justification from the scientific standpoint, and the presence 
of what Dr, Schiller has described as the 'Will to Disbelieve* has been 
but too obvious in many cases recent in the public mind. Truth can 
only be elicited when the attitude of the seeker is impartial and no 
personal considerations are allowed to obscure the judgment or with- 
hold the full acknowledgment of the facts and conditions observed. 

We have to admit that however extraordinary and subversive of 
our preconceived notions the phenomena of psychic action may be, yet 
they are not on that account to be judged impossible and it is but a 
confession of impotence to say that our senses have deceived us. 

But the 'Will to believe* has also its dangers and these are prom- 
inent in the claims of some of the leading exponents of the 'spiritistic* 
hypothesis. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and until 



64 FREDERICK BLIGH BOND 

public lecturers and writers who are advocates of this school are con- 
tent to cut out and discard all weak or imperfectly attested instances 
the cause of truth will not be strengthened but rather set back, and 
made a subject of ridicule and contempt. The facts are quite good 
enough and their cumulative value is overwhelming. But the scep- 
tics must study all the facts and not argue on an insufficient basis of 
knowledge as they have too often done. 

As an instance of the type of evidence which should in my judg- 
ment be avoided, I might mention the dubious instances of so-called 
'psychic' photographs which have been widely advertised on the 
authority of a leader of the spiritualist movement who is well in the 
public eye. To take one example only, there will be found in the 
Proceedings of the London Society for Psychic Research, (Vol. XIV, 
1898-9, pp. 234-238) the record of a supposed abnormal photograph 
of the late Lord Combermere taken by an amateur on the day of his 
funeral. On examination of this picture by Sir William Barrett it 
was found that the effect of features in the ghostly figure seated in 
the chair was produced entirely by the markings of the carvings on the 
chair itself. What might have been a white whisker or part of a 
beard was more probably a collar or linen stock such as a footman 
would have worn. And the only other definite feature was the dark 
streak of a collar either of velvet or some facing material darker than 
the coat. And the picture is about thirty years old. Nevertheless 
this is claimed by the ardent enthusiast as evidence of the survival 
of the human soul! As Editor of a responsible journal devoted to 
Psychic Science I wrote to the paper which published this afresh in 
May of the present year, pointing out that the lighting of the appari- 
tion was identical in source with the lighting of the chair itself, the 
source of light being from a window on the right of the figure. This 
alone proclaimed it to be a normal figure, obtained by a partial ex- 
posure exactly as it would have been if one of the servants of the 
house had rested in the chair for a few minutes and moved about 
a good deal. But my communication was received with a howl of 
wrath from the whole school of this lecturer's adherents and I have in 
consequence been asked to withdraw from the editorship of the pub- 
lication known as 'Psychic Science', whose control has now passed 
into other hands. 

44 Stratford Road, 
London, W. 8, England. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 

EXPERIMENTS IN PSYCHIC SCIENCE 



BY L. R. G. CRANDON 



All honor to Clark University on this novel occasion. When 
Clark University announced a symposium on Psychical Research to 
cover two weeks and there to bring together, so far as possible, the 
people now in America who had had the most experience, those in 
authority took a notable step forwards in the history of Science. 
No University has done it before. No University before has ad- 
mitted officially the existence of a psychic problem. 

The history of the reactions of universities to Psychical Research 
shows wisdom from the worldly and practical point of view. The 
universities of America are many of them in the formative and 
growing stage. There are more applications for admission than 
there is room and these institutions are faced with the necessity, con- 
stantly, of increasing their endowments. Gifts come from the pros- 
perous men of business, many of whom are stimulated to become 
benefactors of the colleges because they themselves had not the oppor- 
tunity in their youth. They represent money and power and ex- 
hibit that sensitiveness which has always been noticed in the finan- 
cial pulse of a nation. 

Three bankers and a lawyer, all leaders in their lines, wanted to 
sit with a famous medium and they were told by one of their own 
group that such a sitting could be had if they would write down all 
they saw, heard and felt during the sitting and sign their names to 
it for publication. There was to be no implication of spiritualism 
and no opinions to be expressed as to the cause of the phenomena 
observed. One was president of a National Bank, one was presi- 
dent of a Trust Company, one was a banker and financial adviser, 
and the lawyer's name is known from coast to coast. They all 
decided not to go to the sitting under these conditions, saying 
frankly that they felt that they would menace the standing of their 
institutions in the community. It is no reproach, therefore, to past 
and future donors to universities to say of them that most of them. 



66 L. R. G. CRANDON 

would probably hesitate to give funds to a university which under- 
takes seriously to study psychic science. This is true only because 
of the attitude of the world in general towards this budding 
science. There is little doubt that if one of our biggest universities 
should take up the matter as a subject of study that it might lose 
in future endowments from five to fifteen millions of dollars. 

Public opinion, however, is a problem in psychology and it takes 
strange jumps. What is dark, discredited and, in general, without 
respectability today, may be that of which all the world will be 
lifting its voice in praise tomorrow. 

The notable case of university contact with psychics of the last 
half century is that of the Seybert Commission of the University of 
Pennsylvania. The sum of money was given to the University by 
Mr. Henry Seybert on condition that it investigate "all systems of 
Morals, Religion or Philosophy which assume to represent the 
Truth, and particularly of Modern Spiritualism." The Commis- 
sion consisted of ten men who sat occasionally over a period of 
14 months, in 1884-85, with several mediums. 

Their conclusion was that " Spiritualism presents the melancholy 
spectacle of gross fraud, perpetrated upon an uncritical portion of the 
community and that there is an unwillingness on the part of mediums 
to have their powers freely investigated nothing which could be 
looked upon as evidence has been purposely suppressed." If the 
Report is now read in light of present knowledge of teleplasmic rods, 
based on observations by Crawford and by the "Margery" Circle, 
it is quite apparent that perfectly valid supernormal phenomena may 
have been misinterpreted- 

The record of Harvard University with regard to this science 
has been consistent throughout. In the presence of Professor, later 
President, Felton and three other professors, a divinity student in 
whose room raps were constantly heard was reproached and ex- 
pelled. Another Commission, of which the late Professor Louis 
Agassiz was a member, carried on a so-called study of the medium- 
ship in 1857. The behavior of the professors in this research de- 
serves no other word than ludicrous, and now an entirely unofficial 
group of junior instructors at Harvard, with occasional professors 
as guests, sits eight times with a medium in 1925. A brief account 
of this comedy will be given later. 

A fund of four hundred thousand dollars was donated to Leland 
Stanford University recently. From this it may be hoped that val- 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 67 

uable research will come. This single large gift also gives hope 
that other funds will come in time, specifically designated for this 
purpose. In view, therefore, of the history of psychics and the 
present attitude of the world towards it, I repeat: all honor to 
Clark University! 

Although this occasion is religious only in a fundamental sense, 
one is nevertheless tempted to begin with a text. 
"Hear now this, O foolish people, without understanding; which 

have eyes, and see not; which have ears and hear not; 
"Brethren be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be 
ye children, but in understanding be you men'' 

Psychic Science or Metapsychics may be defined as the science of 
physical or psychological phenomena, due to outside forces which 
seem intelligent, or due to unknown faculties of the human spirit. 

In this old subject which is newly becoming a science, we must 
begin with a confession of ignorance. If our knowledge be com- 
pared to a sphere, our ignorance is like the void of space which sur- 
rounds it. Like Dante, we find ourselves in a dark wood where 
the way is lost. Whatever way we look the path is of alluring in- 
terest. Every experiment opens up a vista of other consequent ones. 
The phenomena are not orderly, judged by our limited senses. We 
are overwhelmed by their variety and bizarre quality. We are 
forced into the humble position of being recorders only. 

Than the subject of psychical research, there is none that leads to 
such an amount of emotional controversy. "Just in proportion as 
the honesty of the mediums is proved, does the wrath of the com- 
munity enkindle against them. The very fact that it is not a cheat 
seems to anger them." (Capron, 1855). The scientific observa- 
tion and recording of psychical experiments should not arouse emo- 
tion in the minds of rational people nor should the subject ever be 
one for debate. That it is made subject to debate and that the 
debate rapidly descends into personalities seems to be a part of the 
price. "The debater starts with his mind made up, his conclusions 
settled. That, of course, is the primary sin against science. Biolo- 
gists do not debate, nor chemists, nor physicists. They explore, ex- 
periment, discuss." (Overstreet, 1926). 

The subject and its manifestation are old. What is happening 
now is neither new nor unique. That wonderful organization, the 
Catholic Church, has always been a society for psychical research. 
Not a saint becomes one until the evidence, verbal and written, of the 



68 L. R. G. CRANDON 

unusual happenings which occurred in the presence of the candidate 
have been studied, and the devil's advocate has been heard, to attempt 
to show that all so-called miracles may have a normal explanation. In 
the history of every race we have the medicine man. Folk lore, full 
of mysteries, precedes all written history. Out of every tribe come 
stories of werwolves, of the little people, of fairies, of ghosts, of 
haunts. Mediumistic experiments went on in the Middle Ages 
under the patronage of the alchemists. The wood-cuts in their 
ancient books indicate this throughout. 

A score of books have been written by scholars to show that both 
Old and New Testaments are full of psychic experience, spirits, and 
supernormal phenomena. (Paton and Stobart). 

It may properly here be asked Do these experiences in human 
history form something that our civilization has emerged from or 
were the ancients nearer to the mystery of things and have we lost 
it? Is psychical research encouraging a return to superstition or is 
it the beginning of an effort to return to a lost sensibility? 

Serious scientific investigation of this subject may be said to begin 
with the Work of Sir William Crookes of the Royal Society 
in 1870. His treatment by the scientific world was the proto- 
type of what has happened ever since. He writes, "When I first 
stated that I was about to investigate the phenomena, the an- 
nouncement called forth universal expression of approval. One said 
that my 'statements deserved respectful consideration/ another ex- 
pressed 'profound satisfaction that the subject was about to be in- 
vestigated by a man so thoroughly qualified;' a third was 'gratified 
to learn that the matter is now receiving the attention of cool and 
clear-headed men of recognized position in science ;' a fourth asserted 
that 'no one could doubt Mr. Crookes' ability to conduct the investi- 
gation with rigid impartiality;' and a fifth was good enough to tell 
his readers that 'if men like Mr. Crookes grappled with the subject, 
taking nothing for granted until it is proved, we shall soon know 
how much to believe.' " 

"These remarks, however, were written too hastily. It was taken 
for granted by the writers that the results of my experiments would 
be in accordance with their preconception. What they really de- 
sired was not the truth, but an additional witness in favor of their 
own foregone conclusions. When they found that the facts which 
the investigation established could not be made to fit those opinions, 
why 'so much the worse for the facts.' " 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 69 

"They tried to creep out of their confident recommendations of 
the inquirer by declaring that 'Mr. Home is a clever conjurer who 
has duped us all.' 'Mr. Crookes might with equal propriety ex- 
amine the performances of an Indian juggler.' 'Mr. Crookes must 
get better witnesses before he can be believed.' 'The thing is too 
absurd to be treated seriously.' 'It is impossible, and therefore can- 
not be.' 'The observers have all been "biologised' and fancy they 
see things occur which really never took place.' " 

After extraordinary experiences with D. D. Home, Sir William 
Crookes made his report of materializations, through the medium, 
Florence Cook, of the famous "Katie King." For many months 
Katie King repeatedly appeared, walked about, shook hands with the 
sitters and was generally present as a full formed materialization 
and there in the corner was Florence Cook, the medium, sound 
asleep. 

In 1882, Sir William Barrett offered a paper on certain psychic 
experiences to the Royal Society but the governing committee de- 
clined to allow him to read it. As a result of this, Sir William went 
out and, with others, formed the (British) Society for Psychical 
Research. The record of this Society has been characteristically 
British in its conservatism. It has endorsed few mediums but it has 
given a kind of dignity to the subject, and in England at least, the 
subject is no longer knocked about by mountebanks. 

Since 1873 the list of great minds who believed that there was 
something behind all these manifestations, which science has yet to 
recognize, has been large. The list of free and courageous men in- 
cludes Crookes, Barrett, Sidgwick, Wallace, Myers, Flammarion, 
Lombroso, Aksakoff, Sciaparelli, Bozzano, James, Richet, Lodge, 
Hodgson, Hyslop, Feilding, Crawford, Geley, Schrenck-Notzing and 
Doyle. These leading minds seem to agree with the final conclu- 
sions of William James, that when all the fraud and deceit and 
trickery are removed, there remains a residuum which no hypothesis 
covers so well as that of spiritualism. 

In the last ten years there has been an immense amount of data 
gathered by good observers. This recrudescence undoubtedly was 
stimulated by the war and its losses in life, but the growth has con- 
tinued and seems to be remarkably healthy at this moment. Craw- 
ford in Ireland produced three books of experiments with the Goli- 
gher family. Richet and others have produced volumes of observa- 
tions on Palladino. Schrenck-Notzing has made capital reports of 



70 L. R. O. CRANDON 

his work, with drawings and camera, with the mediums Eva C. and 
Willy Schneider. 

Geley, at the Institute Metapsychique in Paris, has written two 
books containing experiments with Eva C., Guzik, and Kluski. This 
last medium, entirely amateur, is a banker in Warsaw in whose pres- 
ence full size materializations of the human figure and of animals 
as well, constantly occur. 

METHODOLOGY 

The problem of a satisfactory method by which the study of 
psychical phenomena may be raised from the status of a mere hap- 
hazard observation to that of a satisfactory scientific effort is by no 
no means easy of solution. The diversity of phenomena, the con- 
ditions of obscurity which ordinarily obtain, and the perplexing inter- 
weaving of the personal equation of all concerned, observers and 
spectators as well as the medium, all present elements of difficulty. 
The rational observer, acquainted with the history of psychical re- 
search, realizes at the outset that certain desired tests of a purely 
laboratory quality are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. It is 
frequently urged, for example, that the phenomena to be veridical 
should be capable of repetition at will. Were the formation and 
exudation of teleplasm, for example, the result of the combination 
of known forces or components, the point might be soundly urged. 
As yet, however, we do not surely know those components or forces, 
we do not know the precise conditions under which the genetic im- 
pulse giving rise to the visible manifestation shows itself. We find, 
moreover, that, in the majority of instances, the phenomena do not 
rise in the volition of the medium, nor are they subsequently con- 
trolled by it. They are often sporadic and subject to inhibition by 
causes not known. Only of late years has there been a really serious 
attempt to collect and collate data scattered over the whole world. 
These are difficult of access and are defectively recorded. We do 
have, today, a growing feeling that these phenomena imperatively 
demand persistent and scientific study by observers with proper 
qualifications. This study will soonest bear sound results if there 
shall be adopted a methodology of investigation which shall insure 
as large a measure of uniformity in treatment as may be possible. 
Then, and only then, will it be feasible to collate and compare to 
the degree necessary for scientific advance. 

Mr. J. Malcolm Bird has put it clearly in a recent paper. "This 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 71 

knowledge of procedure underlies all science, all professions. Be- 
fore any professional man can work or practice in his given field, 
he must devote a period of years to learning in all its details the 
methodology of that field. 

"The reason why we have not developed a generally accepted 
methodology is complex. The dominant factors are the youth and 
the extraordinary subject matter of our science. 

"Metapsychics, while related to biology and psychology, and, as we 
now find, to physics and even to mathematics, grew out of none of 
these. Until we can attain some approximation to standardization 
of method it is easy to perceive why we cannot get serious scientific 
attention.'* 

After establishing a vocabulary, by international agreement, we 
have first to determine whether or not the phenomena occur. In 
Europe their occurrence is generally admitted. America is some 
years behind. 

v We next divide the manifestations into subjective (or mental) 
and objective (or physical). Some phenomena involve at one time 
both mental and physical. 

A. The subjective or mental phenomena include: 

1. All knowledge not normally obtained (cryptaesthesia, which 
subdivides into telepathy, psychometry and prophecy). 

2. Prosopopesis, the apparent assumption of the medium's body 
by another personality (secondary, impersonative, or discarnate). 

B. The objective or physical phenomena include: 

1. All telekinesis under condition of control which exclude nor- 
mal cause, such as levitation, apports, deports; 

2. Psychic breezes, with changes in temperature; 

3. Sounds with or without subjective content; 

4. Psychic odors; 

5. Psychic lights; 

6. Psychic photographs; 

7. Production of teleplasm; 

8. Materialization ; 

C. There is a third class of phenomena which has both subjec- 
tive and objective content, such as apparently intelligent communi- 
cation conveyed through table-tipping, writing with planchette and 
automatic writing. 

The matter of message-bearing mediums will not be taken up 



72 L. R. 0. CRANDON 

here at length. The testing precautions are those of accurate rec- 
ords and patient application of all possible checks and sources of 
information. 

In the study of physical mediums there is some progress to report, 
particularly in the case of Margery. The factors subject to control 
and check are: 

1 . The seance-room ; 

2. The observers; their character and training; 

3. The Psychic and her clothing; 

4. The method and adequacy of the control apparatus ; 

5. The apparatus to be used; and 

6. The records, to be made concurrent with the phenomena. 

The need of all these observations has been developed and made 
clear by experience through the usual and hard method of trial and 
error. This you will see as the story of the mediumship is told. 

The Temple of Truth has many entrances: the one marked 
"Psychic Research" is approached by a stairway of two steps. The 
first of these is labelled: "Are the phenomena real; do the physical 
manifestations of supernormality actually occur?" The second step 
deals with the matter of cause and need not concern us until we 
have climbed the first step. 

Wherever the physical phenomena occur, whether it be in a paper 
house in Japan, a humble cottage in Austria, a farmhouse in Ireland, 
in a room on Beacon Hill, or the laboratory of the Research Society, 
there is a similarity which must be impressive. This common for- 
mula may be expressed in three parts: 

(1) Under conditions of rigid control, material objects are 
moved. Magnetism, electricity, radio-activity and gravity are ex- 
cluded. This is called telekinesis. 

(2) When these things are moved, the fact is not a miracle. 
Anything which happens again and again ceases to be a miracle. 
On the contrary, when a material object is lifted or moved, the 
hand, the eye and the camera record that the movement is caused 
by a psychic rod, of a material called ectoplasm or teleplasm, which 
emerges from the body of the psychic. 

Of the reality of this ectoplasm, Richet says: "The alternative, 
then, is that the phenomena are genuine or that they are due to 
fraud. I am very well aware that they are extraordinary, even so 
monstrously extraordinary that at first sight the hypothesis of im- 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 73 

measurable, repeated and continued fraud seems the more probable 
explanation. But is such a fraud possible? I cannot think so. 
When I recall the precautions that all of us have taken not once, not 
twenty, but a hundred or even a thousand times, it is inconceivable 
that we should have been deceived on all these occasions. It is 
possible that some day an unexpected experiment may explain our 
prolonged deception quite simply. So be it, but until it has been 
explained how we have all been duped by an illusion, I claim that 
the reality of these materializations must be conceded. " 

(3) Always, where these things happen, there is the figment, or 
fiction, or pretense, or fact, that a human entity professing to be one 
that formerly inhabited this flesh, is in control of the situation and 
is producing the phenomena. 

To recapitulate then, there is a common formula to all physical 
mediumship : One, that things are moved ; two, that they are moved 
by a terminal of ectoplasm from the body of the medium ; and, three, 
that a discarnate entity pretends to control the performance. 

"The first condition which a scientist should fulfill who engages 
in the investigation of natural phenomena is to free his mind wholly 
from philosophical misgivings ;" and "We must understand that 
what our theory stamps as absurd is not always impossible in fact." 
These two wise recommendations, formulated in 1865, apply ad- 
mirably to the present-day detractors of psychical research. 

Claude Bernard has also said that "It is never necessary to re- 
pudiate an exact and adequately observed fact." The facts of 
psychics are reported by scientists who, from Crookes to Richet, are 
entirely accustomed to observe natural phenomena. Why, then, 
does their incorporation into academic science meet such resistance? 
The reasons for this are of several sorts. 

We have, first, the fear of miracles, resulting from two centuries 
of scientific culture. It is certain that the phenomena of meta- 
psychics are of supernormal character; and hence they appear to be 
miracles of a sort, in derogation of the laws of nature. But the 
modern scientist insists that nature's laws be held inviolate, and has 
such horror of their derogations that often he will not even pause 
to ask himself whether such an affront is not merely an apparent 
one. Science has a passion for phenomena which can be repeated 
at will in the laboratory, under conditions which can be altered at 
will to facilitate examination of the facts. 

When we turn away from matter, to climb the ladder of existence, 



74 L. R. G. CRANDON 

when we come to deal with organism and with mind, we find the 
phenomena less and less subject to repetition at our will perhaps 
because their causation is more complex, perhaps because causation is 
actually a variable. Under such conditions, we encounter more and 
more of anomalous facts. There exist natural phenomena which we 
can neither reproduce in our laboratories nor observe at our own 
will. Finally at the top of the scale, metapsychics seems to show us 
a transcendence of thought which triumphs over physiological limita- 
tions and even, in some measures, over those of time and space. 

The incredulity of the scientists is a systematic one, for meta- 
psychics disturbs their conception of the world and, therefore, they 
will have none of it. We may quote to them another passage from 
Claude Bernard : "It is better to know nothing than to have a mind 
occupied with fixed ideas, centered upon theories for which confirma- 
tion is perpetually being sought, to the neglect of everything that 
does not fall into the mold." 

The scientists have the most intricate explanations of these 
phenomena; all really flattering the ingenuity of the medium. But 
their explanations are harder to accept than ours. Margery has 
been accused of being magician, electrician, radio-sharp, ventrilo- 
quist, writer in nine languages, and concealer of a trained serpent. 
The old lady read Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress with Explanatory 
Notes by Scott. At the end she declared it was all perfectly clear 
to her except the Explanatory Notes! 

The attitude of some scientists seems to be: Whatever this is, 
we are at least sure it is not what it pretends to be. We, on the 
other hand, hold that possibly it is just what it pretends to be; no 
hypothesis seems so thoroughly to fit all the facts. One bromide 
that the smart critic is constantly repeating is something like this: 
If when we die I must come back and make raps and ring bells, you 
have added a new horror to death. The actual triviality of the 
phenomena is a theme for jocose comment for those who know little, 
and have thought less, on the subject. Well, a lot of trivial episodes 
have started things. The apple that struck Newton hit the right 
head to produce results: gravitation was born as a human concept. 
Watts and his tea-kettle were the beginnings of steam power ; Frank- 
lin and his kite are part of the story of electricity. It seems as if 
the wisdom of the plan of things gives our blind race just as much 
as it can bear and no more. If people can best be convinced of 
the reality of these manifestations by pranks and antics, the ends 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 75 

resorted to justify the means. Furthermore, our senses are so 
limited that much escapes them. Actual experience of an hour car- 
ries more conviction than weeks of lectures like this! 

Although one should be sternly critical as to all psychic phe- 
nomena, there is no doubt that a sympathetic spiritual attitude 
namely, that all this may be what it appears to be aids in getting 
results. It cannot be too often repeated that psychic research of 
the best sort is really "psychic" and depends on the spiritual back- 
ground of the observer. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle puts it well thus: 
"It is not the bumptious, self-opinionated, sitting with a ludicrous 
want of proportion as a judge upon spiritual matters, who attains 
results; but it is he who appreciates that the strict use of reason and 
observation is not incompatible with humility of mind and that cour- 
teous gentleness of demeanor which makes for harmony and sym- 
pathy between the inquirer and his subject." The communicating 
intelligence should be treated as an honored guest. 

Sidgwick, at the close of his presidential address, puts it thus: 
"Scientific incredulity has been so long in growing, and has so many 
and so strong roots, that we shall only kill it, if we are able to kill 
it at all, by burying it alive under a heap of facts. We must keep 
"pegging-away ;" we must accumulate fact upon fact, and add ex- 
periment upon experiment and not wrangle too much with incredu- 
lous outsiders about the conclusiveness of any one, but trust to the 
mass of evidence for conviction. We must drive the objector into 
the position of being forced either to admit the phenomena as inex- 
plicable, at least by him, or to accuse his fellow investigators either 
of lying or cheating, or of a blindness or forgetfulness incompatible 
with any intellectual condition except absolute idiocy." When the 
investigators begin to accuse each other you are on a road with no 
end. 

The British S. P. R. has been called "a society for the suppression 
of facts, for the wholesale imputation of imposture, for the dis- 
couragement of the sensitive, and for the repudiation of every 
revelation of the kind." Despite this, Schrenck-Notzing exhorts 
his fellow worker to take heart. "Do not allow yourself to be 
discouraged in your efforts to open a new domain for science 
either by foolish attacks, by cowardly calumnies, by the misrep- 
resentation of facts, by the violence of the malevolent, or by any 
sort of intimidation. Advance always along the path you have 



76 L. R- O. CRANDON 

opened, thinking of the words of Faraday 'nothing is too amazing 
to be true/ " 

While to the unthinking scoffer, table-tilting, levitation, bell-ring- 
ing, etc., may seem trivial in comparison with stage tricks, it must 
be remembered that those who are seriously investigating these 
phenomena are not out for a vaudeville entertainment, but are intent 
on showing that if a single object should move even a single inch 
without there being a normal physical link of causation between the 
object and any person or thing in the vicinity, that here we have a 
phenomenon than which there could be nothing more challenging. 
That such phenomena have occurred is well attested by competent 
observers. It is the explanation that bothers the conventional scien- 
tist ; he cannot pigeon-hole it, therefore he will have none of it. 

The purpose of presenting the history of the Margery mediumship 
up to the present time is solely to make the plea that it be considered 
earnestly; that it is apparently one of the best examples of this new 
psychic science. We have here apparently definite exterior motiva- 
tion which takes place within nine feet of the psychic. We feel that 
our whole relation to phenomena at present should be merely that 
of recorders, with precision and scientific methods. The problem of 
cause and significance is not before us. A scientific study of this 
medium has no relation necessarily to human survival and return, 
spiritism or religion. 

Curiously enough, there is nothing in our experience which makes 
us believe that a scientific training or a professorship is alone 
enough to make a good psychical researcher. William James puts it, 
"The first difference between the psychical researcher and the inex- 
perienced person is that the former realizes the commonness and 
typicality of the phenomena, while the latter, less informed, thinks 
it is so rare as to be unworthy of attention. I wish to go on record 
for the commonness." 

Most of the phenomena in the seance room are things which can 
be done by a sleight-of-hand artist and are only supernormal if they 
occur under conditions of control which make it impossible for the 
psychic to do them. It is a fundamental regulation, therefore, of 
an honestly conducted investigation that the control of the psychic 
shall be such that the psychic is anatomically and mechanically in- 
capable of making the phenomena. He should be able to say, before 
the sitting, "The control is such that fraud is eliminated from the 
discussion." Constantly we find investigators making a "plant" on 



THE MARGBRY MEDIUMSHIP 77 

the psychic, either to prevent the phenomena or to leave a loophole 
in the control through which the investigator himself can escape 
later and thus avoid admitting that he could not explain the mani- 
festation. 

The scientist from the laboratory of chemistry or physics is by 
training used to controlling all the conditions of an experiment. In 
psychical research you control only some of the conditions. The 
other conditions and the results may be as remote and purely ob- 
servational as astronomy, where we control nothing. 

In 1762, Galvani said, "I am persecuted by two classes: the scien- 
tists, and the know-it-alls. They call me the frog's dancing master. 
But I know that I have discovered one of the greatest forces of 
nature." 

It may be readily seen, therefore, from what has been given, that 
the study of psychics has its vexations. 

In this study it is difficult to find men who are free. By that 
we rnean men independent enough of social, economic or academic 
pressure to be willing to write down, sign, and publish what they 
see, feel, and hear in the seance room. 

The difference between the intellectual slave and the free man is 
shown by this: A learned professor, faced with the thirtieth repeti- 
tion of an experiment with his own apparatus, under his own con- 
ditions, said, "If I were to declare that to be a supernormal phe- 
nomenon, I should have to overthrow the philosophy of a lifetime." 
In contrast to this, one free and fearless mind, Mr. John Haynes 
Holmes, speaking on this mediumship only a few months ago, said, 
"the reality of what is done, under strictest control, is established. 
In saying this, we are shaking the conviction of a lifetime. But we 
are interested in convictions only as they are consistent with truth. 
Truth is what we want." 

The story of the Margery mediumship is brief, and consists of a 
series of well proven facts, but, though typical of the best quality 
of physical mediumship, it is unique in several respects. 

Discovered accidentally in 1923, the mediumship has advanced 
rapidly and the phenomena which occur appear equally well at 
home or abroad. Margery enters a laboratory in Paris, or London 
for the first time, and, under conditions laid down by the most 
experienced men in the world, the phenomena begin within a few 
minutes. This is true in New York and Buffalo, apparently in any 
house, in any place. At the beginning, six people sat round a seven- 



78 L. R. G. CRANDON 

teen pound table in red light. It began to tilt and levitate almost at 
once and it was quickly found, by elimination, who was to blame. 
A code of raps was established and the names of various discarnate 
people came through. One, which declared itself to be Walter, 
brother of the psychic, came to dominate the sittings. After two 
months the psychic went into trance and Walter spoke through her. 
During this period other persons in the circle were occasionally 
seized in trance by the same controlling entity. Whether this 
entity be a hypnotic impersonation, a secondary personality, or really 
what it pretends to be has no bearing on the reality of the physical 
supernormal phenomena which occur. 

Two months later Walter's independent voice first came through; 
of which more later. Communication was thus made easy and 
experiments went on of increasing complexity. 

In 1924, came a period of observation and investigation by a 
committee selected by the Scientific American. This was largely a 
period of comedy. One member, the most experienced student of 
this subject in the world, declared the phenomena to be of first 
quality and supernormal. The Secretary of the committee reached 
the same conclusion. One member said at the end of every sitting, 
"There are plenty of psychic phenomena here", but he wouldn't 
write it. Perhaps he was wisely discreet. The third member was 
deaf. At a sitting in the dark, therefore, with eyes and ears missing, 
as it were, he might as well have been absent! A fourth member, 
whose knowledge of wriggling out of strait- jackets and hand- 
cuffs was as great as his ignorance of psychics, came with his mind 
made up before he started. The last member saw apparatus used, 
of his own making, under his own conditions, over forty times, but 
decided it could not be true because he would not believe it. These 
inexplicable occurrences did not fit into his already formed philoso- 
phy, and the intellectual hole he found himself in was a bit uncom- 
fortable. The signed notes of the Scientific American Committee 
are entirely accurate and contain no implication of normal produc- 
tion of phenomena. 

Now people began coming from all over this country, together 
with visitors from Canada and Europe, Mexico, Brazil and New 
Zealand. No effort is made to establish a center of propaganda 
and no one is asked his opinion, but each sitter was and is required 
before he leaves to write down what he has observed. Interest in 
the subject grows like a rolling snowball. Students and Faculty 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 79 

members from many colleges are on the waiting-list: Clark, Tufts, 
Yale, Smith, Harvard, Michigan, Nebraska, Johns Hopkins, Ox- 
ford, Princeton, Maine, Columbia and Technology. The observers 
include men and women of all classes: editors, teachers, doctors, 
lawyers, ministers of all denominations, and business men. 

The next flurry in this merry battle was in June, 1925, when a 
group of four junior instructors at Harvard College with an occa- 
sional professor as a guest, asked leave to observe things out there 
under their own conditions. This was readily granted, under our 
usual conditions, which are two in number: first, that the notes 
shall be made on the dictaphone while the events are occurring, and 
that these notes shall be signed by all present and given to the 
medium before another sitting; and second, that any fraud or impli- 
cation of fraud shall be entered in the dictaphonic notes or shall be 
deemed nonexistent. Under these conditions there were eight won- 
derful sittings, the notes of which have recently been published; 1 
without addition, subtraction or any change whatsoever. These 
notes are so precise and so accurate and so perfectly record every- 
thing that happened, that the mediumship is glad to stand or fall 
on the Harvard notes. This series of eight sittings, in which there 
was no flaw and no way to escape the psychic origin of the phe- 
nomena, was entirely unofficial as far as Harvard went, but, never- 
theless, was in a fair way to commit the name of Harvard to the 
endorsement of the medium. This would be a very serious matter 
for any educational institution in any American community at this 
moment. Charges of trickery were hurled into the newspapers by 
the Harvard group without a single reference to their own notes. 
They knew it was not trickery but that was their only way out. 
There can be no blame attached to these men for seeking to pro- 
tect the name of Harvard from endorsing in any way the phenomena 
of the seance room. The only possible reproach to them is that they 
should have begun an investigation like this without visualizing the 
possibility that they might have to endorse it. The friends of 
Margery can only laugh at them and forgive them. The dicta- 
phone records and its memory never fails! 

In June, 1926, Mr. Eric J. Dingwall, Research Officer of the 
(British) Society for Psychical Research, made a report on the 
Margery Mediumship. It was based on his experiments in Janu- 



^argery, Harvard, Veritas, 1926. To be obtained on application. 



80 L. R. G. CRANDON 

ary and February, 1925. Mr. Dingwall's comments on his own 
paper is: "Those who have read it have all come to different 
opinions as to the real views of the author," as if this were some- 
thing of which an author should boast! The Honorable Everard 
Feilding says of it "circumstances led him to box the compass of most 
opinions and to end with none." Mr. Dingwall declares explicitly, 
however, "I have never on any occasion detected anything that could 
be called fraud or deceit." At the time of his sitting, he wrote a pri- 
vate letter to Baron von Schrenck-Notzing, which was later pub- 
lished. 2 In this he said, "It is the most beautiful case of teleplasmic 
telekinesis with which I am acquainted. We can freely touch the 
teleplasm. The materialized hands are joined by cords to the 
medium's body; they seize objects and move them. The teleplasmic 
masses are visible and tangible upon the table in excellent red light. 
I held the medium's hands; I saw (teleplasmic) figures and felt them 
in good light. The 'control* is irreproachable." 

Suddenly Mr. Dingwall's enthusiasm received a damper. Janu- 
ary 18, 1925, Dr. William McDougall wrote a letter to Mr. Ding- 
wall marked "strictly confidential" but later published by him. 3 In 
this letter he wrote: "My testimony to it would, I venture to think, 
carry considerable weight, even in the scientific world ; whereas a 
favorable report by you, if not supported or confirmed by me, might 
fail to do so. It is highly probable, or even inevitable that, when 
you report the ectoplasmic phenomena to be genuine, you will be 
accused by the scientists of being an accomplice, of being in collu- 
sion with "Margery." Your best defense against this would be my 
concordant testimony and support. Further, I shall, no doubt, be 
expected to render some report to the English S. P. R. : and it will 
be very unsatisfactory from every point of view, if your report and 
mine on the same series of sittings are in serious disagreement 
.... you express yourself frankly as satisfied of the reality of 
the ectoplasm. That is good as far as it goes; but it seems to me, 
you are bound to try to carry me along with you." 

This quotation shows the character of the investigators. The 
question raised is not "What is true?" but "What is expedient to 
report?" 

The Professor apparently feels it his duty to destroy the medium- 



"Revue Metapsychique, February, 1925, 
'Journal Am. S. P. R. June, 1925. P. 301. 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 81 

ship and is unhappy because his dictum has not already done so. 
He kills it but it will not die. Thus in 'Psyche/ October, 1926, he 
writes: "It might have been hoped that the adverse verdict of the 
Scientific American Committee, followed as it was by Mr. Hoag- 
land's article in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1925, would 
have satisfied all but a few resolute believers that the claims made 
on behalf of this medium have no solid foundation. But it would 
seem clear that no such result has been obtained .... Her many 
partisans, some of whom are persons of excellent standing, continue 
to make public large claims on her behalf, claims which, if they 
were well founded, should establish her as perhaps the most re- 
markable medium of all time/' 

Before giving the details of the kinds of phenomena, one may well 
anticipate a legitimate question which is always propounded. Why 
must these occurrences take place in the dark or in red light? The 
really complete answer is: these things take place in the dark be- 
cause such is the law governing them. One might say, "Why pick 
on me? I did not make the universe nor its psychic laws." A more 
serious effort, however, to answer the question, with what knowl- 
edge we have, would be as follows: The production of the tele- 
plasmic rods which come from the body of the medium is a vital 
process, akin in some way, perhaps, to birth. If you will reflect, 
you will admit at once that nearly all vital processes go on in the 
dark and in the dark only. Brain action, respiration, heart beat, 
digestion and gestation all go on only in the dark. In short, a 
property of teleplasm is that it is soluble in light. Consider the 
conditions of the development of a photographic plate. This may 
be done only in a light no stronger than red. The development of a 
plate for colored photography must be done in absolute dark. The 
necessity, then, of darkness, or red light for psychic experiments only 
calls for a little ingenuity on the part of the observer, to insure 
good conditions of control. 

The visitor from Mars is told that one-third of our day is spent 
as if dead. We call it sleep. "I don't believe it," says he. "Show 
me/' Six observers then gather round a person for the test and 
shout "sleep!" If no sleep ensues it's a fraud! A request for 
quiet and darkness would be very suspicious. 

The singular quality of this mediumship may be put under five 
headings : 



82 L. R. G. CRANDON 

1. Rigidity of control 

2. The proved independent voice 

3. The great variety of phenomena 

4. The photographs 

5. The finger-prints. 

Rigidity of control The psychic sits clad only in a kimono, 
one under-garment and stockings, and, after a thorough search, she 
enters the glass cabinet, where she has a privacy and an opportunity 
to put over tricks comparable to that of the gold fish! 

The upper and lower margins of the undergarment are held to 
the skin by surgeon's adhesive tape; and blue skin pencil-markings 
criss-cross the margins in all directions. Stocking-tops are similarly 
covered. Shoes are fastened on with "figure of eight" surgeon's 
plaster similarly marked with pencil. The Psychic's wrists and 
ankles are fastened with No. 2 picture wire (strength, 128 Ibs.) 
fastened by square knots and surgeon's knots and the free ends of 
these four fastened to eye bolts in the floor of the cabinet and to 
the outside of side-holes in the glass cabinet (Figure 1) and the ends 
closed with railway express lead seals. The parts of the wire going 
around wrists and ankles are made immobile by surgeon's tape and 
the position of the tape made permanent by blue pencil marks. The 
Psychic's knees are wrapped from 4 inches above the knee to 4 
inches below the knee with surgeon's tape, binding the knees fast 
together, leaving no room between them. The Psychic wears, be- 
sides the garments already described, only a searched kimono. Her 
mouth, ears and short-cut hair are searched, and the neck is fas- 
tened tightly, to prevent any movement forwards, by a locked 
leather collar fastened by a horizontal rope leading to an eye-bolt 
in the back of the cabinet. She sits in a wooden Windsor chair 
fastened to the floor of the cabinet. The distance from the wire 
knots to the eye-bolts is recorded. The general outline of the 
Psychic's body, including arms, wrists, ankles, knees and head are 
visible at all times by the insertion of 50 large-headed luminous 
pins. All the lashing is done by the most skeptical sitter present. 
Under these conditions, 4 the phenomena to be described, occur. 

4 Explicit detailed notes of a sitting under this rigid control is published 
in the Journal American S. P. R., November, 1926. It is signed by eight 
sitters, two of whom are Dr. C. McComas, Professor of Psychology, Prince- 
ton University, and Dr. H. A. Overstreet, Professor of Philosophy, College 
of the City of New York. These two gentlemen were in charge of the 
seance. 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 83 

Although this mediumship has several qualities which make it 
unique, it is, nevertheless, typical of all the best mediumships in 
history, and presents, it is believed, more kinds of phenomena than 
any other, at least, that has been recorded. Notes have been kept, 
in laboratory fashion, of every sitting, from the first. Every phe- 
nomenon hereinafter described is to be found in the signed notes. 
The categories are seventeen in number as follows: 

1. Breezes from the cabinet, with a recorded drop in tempera- 
ture from 70 degrees to 42 degrees, a total of 28 degrees. 

2. Raps. These are heard anywhere within 15 feet of the 
psychic and they vary in sound from a soft tap with the finger, up 
to a sound like the kick of a heavy shoe. There may be gentle raps 
under the table, and when the stethoscope is laid on top of the table 
the sound can be analyzed as if it were made by a finger and nothing 
else. They occur high and low in the room and may even be 
heard as if made by some metal terminal. Thus apparent communi- 
cating raps have been heard on a woman sitter's wedding ring. At 
other times luminous apparatus of the seance room may be seen 
lifted and used to make raps against the side of the cabinet or else- 
where. These raps apparently answer questions intelligently and 
the usual code has been used for communication by raps, namely: 
1. No; 3. Yes; 2. Don't Know; 4. good night; 5. good 
evening; 6. Be silent; etc. As a means of communication, the 
raps were quickly superseded in this mediumship for an easier 
means. 

3. Table-Tilting. This was the first manifestation in this 
mediumship and, using the same code, communication was apparent- 
ly established with some intelligence. The table used was built on 
the specifications of Crawford, namely, a seventeen-pound table, 
rough wood, no nails. This same force came shortly to be used for 

4. Telekinesis by teleplasmic rods. The table sometimes, with 
only superficial contact of the sitters* fingers on top of it, in good 
red light, will move itself about from one room to another, and even 
go down stairs. On one occasion it led directly to an article of 
jewelry which had been lost for a year and a half. It will at times 
be lifted as high as the sitters can reach above the floor and then 
will dance about in the air, keeping perfect time with music on the 
victrola. It has also been levitated with a 160-pound man sitting 
on it. It has also been levitated (once only) in good white light, 



84 L. R. G. CRANDON 

without hand-contact, at the rooms of the (British) S. P. R. in 
London. Several times a reasonable effort was made by two ob- 
servers lying on the floor to hold it down but in vain the ultimate 
pull being 30 to 40 pounds upwards ; all this in red light. Other ob- 
jects are also levitated such as straw baskets with luminous bands on 
them; "Doughnuts" or rings, made of stiff paper, luminous on one 
side; a three-pound papier-mache megaphone, also illuminated, and 
other objects even as small as a luminous-headed pin. The piano 
stool has been moved in good red light seven feet ten inches, the 
nearest person (including the psychic) being ten feet away. Such 
levitation takes place under the strictest conditions of control, to be 
described later, and, if desired as a test, in the presence of only one 
observer. Many times two small luminous objects such as a dough- 
nut and a basket are in the air at the same time, moving not parallel 
to each other and not at the same rate of speed, and they may be 
seen to be moving in all three possible directions during one levita- 
tion. Such objects are taken from the hand of the observer and 
levitated and a luminous "doughnut" may be thus taken from the 
observer through a small hole in the front of the cabinet, levitated 
about and is then pushed through a side hole in the cabinet. A 
luminous basket may be lifted from the floor, carried out from the 
cabinet as far as five feet from the psychic into the middle of the 
circle of sitters, in front of the cabinet, and will be levitated high 
and low, will touch the hands of the sitters and then will be 
carried back into the cabinet, far above the head of the psychic and 
behind her head, all under conditions of physical control so perfect 
that the psychic could not do any of these things by normal means. 
A sitter and his chair may be completely revolved on the floor by 
a force of which he knows nothing, and several times sitters have 
been spilled out of their chairs. 

5. Telekinesis by energy only, without teleplasmic rods. There 
are two outstanding cases of this in the mediumship, both of which 
have been repeated so many hundreds of times under such absolute 
conditions of control that they are established as supernormal be- 
yond question. 

5 A. The Bell-box. This is a box, 14" x 8" x 5", made of 
shellacked white pine. It contains two dry-cell batteries and an electric 
bell. On top of the cover is a wooden flapper as large as the cover, 
held up by a spring. If the flapper is pressed downwards, two 




MARCiKRV 




FIGURE 2 

A pair of chemical balances made of brass, with wooden pans; a 
steel balancing knife edge rests on an agate bed. The pan on the 
left has 4 weights, the pan on the right, none. These are made to 
balance as if equally loaded. The quartz lens camera reveals al- 
ways a cylindrical psychic structure on the unloaded pan. This is 
invisible to the human eye and is intangible. 




FIGURE 3 

v Walter's hand ringing the bell box. We could not see this big left hand on top of 
the bell box in good red light, but l-50th second white flash light, with the quartz lens 
camera, reveals it on the plate. 




FIGURE 4 



Head teleplasm. This substance is seen growing from the right ear; it crawls out 
vcr the face; it is creamy white, rubbery to feel, has a temperature of 40 K It may 
row downwards so as to cover the Psychic's body, seven feet high and two feet wide. 



ov 

grow 




FIGURE 5 

Walter's 'voice mechanism. This is a grayish mass 
like a large potato. There is a tine white string to it 
from the right ear and another structure much like an 
umbilical cord going from the mass into the right nostril 
of the Psvchic. 




FIGURE 6 

Dr. Mark W. Richardson s l'oice~Cut~Out machine, This is a U-tube 
with two luminous floats. The Psychic and the sole sitter each blows 
to hold the floats in a position of disequilibrium. To do this the glass 
tip must be held by the teeth and three holes in it must be covered by 
the lips and tongue. Under these cdnditions the Psychic can neither talk 
nor whistle but Walter can do both freely. This occurs in whatever 
house the experiment is made. 




FIGURE 7 

A paraffinc ylove. A pail of melted paraHine, 
stained for identification, is placed in front of the 
Psychic; beside it is a pail of cold water. At the 
end of the sitting a paraffine glove is found with 
a wrist so narrow that no human hand could get 
out of it. 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 85 

copper terminals come together and the bell in the box rings. The 
box is padlocked after examination, before the sitting, and it is 
examined similarly after the sitting. There is no apparent way to 
ring the bell but by bringing the two terminals together. This 
box was devised and made by the Scientific American Committee 
and was declared by them to be fraud-proof. In red light this box 
may be picked up by any sitter. After he has lifted it, the bell will 
ring intermittently while the holder of it walks about the room 
as far as he can go in that room, nearly nine feet; is held high and 
low, and the holder may turn himself about in complete circles or 
may hand the box through the hands of every sitter, sometimes as 
many as fifteen, and the bell will continue to ring with irregular 
intermittency, and will end ringing in the same period of red light. 
It may be inspected then and there during the same period of red 
light with the addition of white flash light and no normal explana- 
tion is found. As another experiment, with the box sitting in red 
li^ht on the table, the bell will ring in "longs" and "shorts" in 
combination of sequence designated by any sitter, the whole experi- 
ment, from the verbal requests to examination of the box, carrying 
on through and ending in the same period of good red light. 

5B. A pair of Chemical Balances (Figure 2) made wholly of 
brass, except for wooden pans and a steel balancing edge resting on 
a piece of agate, are used. In this experiment either pan of the 
balance is loaded with three to six wooden weights (checkers) and 
the other pan has none. These unequally loaded pans are made, by 
Walter, to balance as if equally loaded. This experiment begins 
and ends in the dark but is to be seen clearly in the red light for a 
period of 5 to 25 seconds. While being examined in red light the 
psychic can leave the cabinet and the hands of the sitters may be 
passed above and below the pans, over and around the balances com- 
plete, all possible threads from any sitter to the balances being thus 
ruled out. As a second variety of this experiment, while the un- 
evenly loaded but balanced pans, either static or in oscillation, are 
seen to be balancing, the whole scale-unit with its base may be 
picked up by the observer and white flash light played on it and all 
around it showing it to have no connection with anything nearby. 
Photographs before and after, as well as examination before and 
after, show the scales to be unchanged in all respects, and no normal 
explanation of the experiment is forthcoming. 



86 L. R. G. CRANDON 

Dr. R. T. Tillyard, F. R. S., writing to Professor Wm. Mc- 
Dougall of Harvard, May 6, 1926, about the balance experiment, 
said: "I must give it as my deliberate opinion that this experiment is 
about as perfect as human ingenuity can devise. Taken in con- 
junction with the photographs, (See category 10, below) which show 
the "psychic cylinder," in the empty pan, I think this constitutes a 
very strong case for both validity and also for the supernormal 
origin of the phenomenon." 

6. Trance-Voice. Early in the mediumship and for a period of 
not over two months there was the ordinary trance-voice such as 
all subjective mediums have. This voice was contralto, of a mascu- 
line timbre, and used a vocabulary not characteristic of the psychic. 

7. Trance-Writing. At one sitting only has this phenomenon 
appeared. On this occasion the psychic in trance in red light made 
motions with her hand as if to write. An envelope was hurriedly 
put on the table as the only paper available. A pencil was put in 
the psychic's hand. Her head was turned over her left shoulder. 
The eyes were closed tight. The hand then wrote in Latin "Qui 
creavit te sine te non salvit te sine te:" a Delphic remark for your 
consideration. Large sheets of paper were now brought and the 
psychic went on writing with great rapidity and perfect lineation, 
communicating in nine languages, including Latin, Ancient Italian, 
Modern Italian, French, German, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Angli- 
cized Chinese, and Chinese Ideographs. Some of these when writ- 
ten were shoved violently across at one sitter or another as if meant 
for him. 

7 A. Automatic Writing has been observed a number of times. 

8. Musical sounds of super-normal origin. Early in the 
mediumship the control (Walter) said one night: "I am going to 
try something which I believe has never been done before. The 
Admiral is going to help me. You are to remain in circle, un- 
broken, no matter how long." The psychic then went into deeper 
trance with head bowed low, in red light, and so remained 28 
minutes. At the end of that time her head was raised. An expres- 
sion of satisfaction appeared on the face, though her eyes were closed, 
and then all 14 sitters heard in the room a chime-like rendering of 
the "Taps" of the American Navy. It was a pure sound no sound 
of the impact as of hammer on gong and no other sound to indicate 
any instrument. It was more like a ship's bell heard through the 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 87 

fog some distance away. There was no instrument in the house 
that could make such a sound, and there was no radio. This experi- 
ment later was repeated about nine times, apparently needing less 
effort and certainly less time on each occasion. Later the notes of 
the piano were heard; on another occasion, for an ex-officer of the 
British Army, apparently three buglers, playing separate instruments, 
could be heard, like trumpeters sounding the "9 P. M. Call" of 
the British Army. Other instruments have been made to give forth 
their notes. Another manifestation of this same class is the striking 
of the bell-like notes of a large clock, deep in tone and very slow. 
We call it the "Celestial Clock." Walter calls it his "Wee 
Watchie." 

9. Perfumes. On one occasion only a phenomenon of this class 
appeared. Each sitter in turn was made to smell and reported an 
odor which might be described as a combination of Lily-of-the- 
Valley and Rose, oppressively sweet and oriental in character. 

10. Supernormal lights. These lights have varied from small, 
pin-head points up to great moving, twisting columns of luminosity, 
2 feet wide by 7 feet high. Such a column of light as this has 
been angulated in two places as if a human figure were seated on 
the table and a bifurcation of the lower section swings like two legs 
from the edge of the table. A luminous mass the size and shape of 
a human eye is seen going about the room and appears to wink. A 
luminous object may take on the form of a human mouth a voice 
comes from it. Rod-like projections of light will come forth from 
the cabinet and touch the clothing, or hands or heads of the sitters, 
who see and feel the impact. Another subdivision of this class is 
when the object, painted with luminous bands, (zinc sulphure, 
lumineux) not activated (as it must be by exposure to white light 
before the sitting) is suddenly made luminous as if the control were 
activating it from some source of light entirely ultra-violet. If a 
hand is put on such a non-activated painted surface the control can 
make the area shine under the hand. The amount of activating 
light must be small because the luminosity thus made does not long 
endure. A figure as of a luminous rose was once seen on the ceiling. 

11. Materialization invisible to the human eye, some of them, 
at least, intangible. Many times, under instructions of Walter, 
flash lights of the medium's cabinet and method of control and table 
have been taken. Many times these have shown objects which the 



88 L. R. G. CRANDON 

eye did not see. For example: flash lights (l/50th of a second, 
magnesium powder) were made of the aforementioned balances, one 
wooden pan of which contained five wooden weights and the other 
pan none. These unequally loaded pans can be seen balancing evenly 
or in perfect equal oscillation, overcoming gravity. On developing 
these plates, there is always seen on the lighter pan or near it, a 
cylinder (Figure 2) about eight inches tall and three or four inches 
in diameter, looking as if made of celluloid. This is not to be 
seen by a human eye, and a hand passed above the empty pan, and 
close to it, while the phenomenon is going on, fails to feel such a 
cylinder. Yet always the camera, equipped with a fused quartz lens, 
reveals this psychic structure. The glass lens does not photograph it. 
Hence, we assume that we have here a psychic structure invisible 
and intangible, but yet giving out or illuminated by ultra-violet rays. 
In this class appears also materialization of a luminosity insufficient 
to reach the human eye and yet recordable by a quartz lens camera. 
Walter says, "I will show you my hand ringing the bell box/' 
The red light shows the bell box ringing but nothing as to what 
is ringing it. The flash light used with quartz lens shows a large 
white hand ringing the bell box (Figure 3). A megaphone has been 
photographed in the air, apparently unsupported by any normal struc- 
ture. A table has been photographed in good levitation. Hands 
are seen in other parts of the plate from time to time. Photographs 
were wanted of the bell box for publication purposes. The photo- 
graph was taken in bright sunlight in the fourth story of the house. 
The photographer, an instructor of the Mass. Institute of Tech- 
nology, using his own camera and plates, was alone in the room with 
the bell-box in the bright sun of noon. The psychic, being the only 
other person in the house, was in the basement.. Three photographs 
of the bell box were taken and all of these showed a white fog, ir- 
regular, over the middle of the plate, and in that fog, in a different 
part of each plate and in different relation to the box, there appeared 
the profile of a man. The photographer says he knows of no way in 
which he could normally thus be-fog a plate. 

12. Materialization felt but not seen. Hundreds of times under 
conditions of perfect control, sitters have been touched as if by a 
human hand or as if by soft rods. These structures are soft, rubbery, 
cold (40* F.), yet feel as if they contained a firm core. They will 
appear as firm black hands over a luminous plaque or may be seen 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 89 

picking up luminous structures. They may be rods from 1-6 of an 
inch up to 2 inches in diameter, blunt or pointed. They may appear 
as a two-pronged instrument. It may come in shape like a French 
loaf and push against leg, body or head of a sitter. It may appear 
as a perfected hand over a luminous plaque. These structures are 
mobile and directed by intelligence. 

13. Materialization visible and tangible. In good red light there 
appear hands of normal size, made of teleplasm, sometimes crude and 
without skin, then with skin, with or without finger nails, some- 
times with two fingers fused into one but with two nails. The whole 
hand and forearm may appear. The fingers never contain more 
than two phalanges. All the bones of the palm may be missing and 
the forearm may contain one or two long bones. These hands move 
intelligently under good red light. The hand may engage in a tug 
of war over a luminous basket, the other handle of which is held by 
the sitter. These materializations are always connected with the 
body of the psychic by a cord resembling that which attaches the 
new born infant to the mother. This cord may be felt down to its 
origin as in a normal birth process. To feel, it is clammy, illustrating 
a description made of it by William Blake, the Mystic, 150 years 
ago when he said it was "Wet with the water which wets not". 

There is a variety of the material teleplasm (or ectoplasm) which 
has a different source and character. It comes from the right ear 
(Figure 4) of the psychic and is pure white, whereas the color of the 
hands described above is greyish. This head teleplasm is cold, feels 
wet or clammy, and may develop and spread over the whole head 
and face of the psychic and pour down into her lap; though it re- 
mains connected with the ear. It may be seen and felt to develop and 
grow downwards. A great sheet of it sometimes extends down five 
feet as if draped over a kind of proboscis arising from the face of the 
psychic. This mass appears lace-like in structure, but that is only 
appearance. There are really no holes in it. A structure is produced 
from time to time, which Walter says is the machine by which his 
independent voice talks (Figure 5). It is a greyish mass looking 
more or less like a large potato (4"x3"x2") which lies on the right 
shoulder or chest of the psychic and is pendant from a fine white 
cord out of the right ear. From this mass there goes up to the right 
nostril of the psychic a structure like an umbilical cord of the new 
born. It is twisted and fleshy. All the structures described under 



90 L- R- G. CRANDON 

this heading have been photographed many times not only by a quartz 
lens but by glass camera, single and sterescopic, and the plates con- 
firmed in each instance what our eyes beheld. The teleplasmic 
structures, after exposure to the white flash for the photographs, be- 
come luminous for a few seconds and then shrink visibly as if dis- 
solving. These structures have been studied at the moment of their 
appearance and at the moment of their disappearance. Apparently 
they disintegrate in the same manner as has been observed of snow in 
the recent expedition up Mt. Everest. Snow at high altitudes, in 
evaporation, apparently does not pass through the watery stage: you 
observe snow, and then nothing. 

14. The Independent Voice. As has been stated, trance and 
trance speaking appeared two months after the beginning of the me- 
diumship, and lasted about two months. The first night a hiss like 
the end of the word "y es s s" was heard in the far corner of the 
seance room. At the next sitting the word "Cassie" was heard in 
the doorway, (and was evidential). At the next sitting faint whis- 
pers were heard in the cabinet from the region near the medium's 
head. This whispered voice got stronger at each subsequent sitting 
and has remained ever since. It now may be described as a mas- 
culine, guttural whisper. A keen and matter-of-fact-lawyer who 
sat occasionally said what every mind with good sense would say: 
"A healthy young woman goes into a dark cabinet and a healthy 
young voice comes out of it; one and one make two!" We could 
not gainsay that. But we were not content with that. A hand was 
put over the medium's mouth by Dr. Comstock and the voice went 
on as before. This same experiment has been done by Dr. Carring- 
ton, by Mr. Bird and by others with the same result, and these re- 
ports have been published. The next objective thing to do was to 
fill the mouth of the medium with water and this has been done 
many times. The voice goes on unimpeded and at the end of the ex- 
periment the psychic ejects the same amount of water and there is 
nothing to suggest that the water comes from the stomach. 

Dr. Mark W. Richardson, in many respects the best mind that 
has studied the mediumship, now sought a mechanical proof of the 
independence of the Walter voice which should be automatic and un- 
questioned. He devised therefore what he calls "the voice-cut-out- 
machine". (Figure 6) This has a U-tube 3 ft. high and 1J4 inches 
in diameter. One arm of this connects by a flexible metal gas-pipe 
with the mouth of the Medium. There are two luminous corks 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 91 

floating at the same level in each arm of the U-tube. The metal 
tube to the mouth has attached at its end a glass mouthpiece (See Fig- 
ure 6), so shaped that it cannot be pushed beyond a certain flange 
into the mouth. There is a hole which must be covered by the upper 
lip, another which must be covered by the lower lip, and after the 
psychic blows up the floats, the tongue must cover the end 4 of the 
glass tip, to keep the floats in a state of disequilibrium. 

The psychic's hands are held or lashed with wire (to prevent the 
hand being put on the upper end of the U-tube). The glass tip is 
put into her mouth. She blows until the floats are about 20 inches 
apart in level, and then in the dark, under these conditions, the Walter 
voice talks and whistles freely; will whistle any tune requested, if he 
knows it, and takes apparent delight in pronouncing words which 
contain many labial, dental and lingual sounds. This experiment 
will last as long as the psychic's teeth will endure the weight of the 
tip and tube (usually about two minutes). It is interesting to note 
that the first time this tube was tried was in a house in which none 
of the circle had ever been before and the experiment was carried out 
by the psychic and Dr. Richardson alone in a closed room. The ex- 
perimental results were just as good on that first night in a strange 
house as they have been ever since. In other words, no practice was 
necessary because the voice is produced independently. It is thus in- 
dependent not of the Psychic's presence, but independent of her nor- 
mal anatomy and physiology. 

Concerning the mechanism by which the independent voice is pro- 
duced, a materialization of some kind must be necessary. Sure enough 
in due time Walter promised to show us his voice apparatus. He 
does so and we are allowed to see it, feel it and photograph it. (See 
Figure 5, and description in Section 12). Walter explains that 
when we want the experiment of hand-over-mouth-and-nose of the 
Psychic, he must attach this voice apparatus of his to some other 
part of the Psychic, that this is difficult and that whenever this ex- 
periment is done, he can do no other phenomena that night, and such 
has been our experience. 

14-A. Other Respiratory Phenomena. Dr. Richardson, with his 
clear thinking and quietly persistent mind, proceeded with ex- 
periments to see if more than one alleged discarnate could exhibit 
signs of respiratory materializations. He placed in front of the 
Psychic in her glass cabinet a shelf. On this shelf is put a blow 
bottle half full of baryta water (saturated solution of Barium Hy- 



92 L. R. G. CRANDON 

drate). To the inlet tube, is attached a metal pipe held by a wooden 
clamp towards the Psychic, about 30 inches away from her mouth. 
Her mouth and the apparatus cannot get nearer together. Now the 
Psychic blows up the voice machine. Walter talks and there is a 
passage of bubbles through the baryta water. Not only are these 
bubbles heard, but luminous floating glass pellets may be seen and 
heard dancing up and down in the baryta water. Here, then, we 
have the Psychic's mouth fully occupied, the voice talking and bubbles 
coming through the blow bottle. After the experiment the baryta 
water showed precipitation of barium carbonate from carbonic acid 
gas, as from a normal lung. As a check, blowing cabinet-air through 
a bottle of baryta water the same length of time (40 seconds) gives 
a faint precipitation, but not so much by far as a human breath gives. 

This experiment is now repeated without the voice cut-out-machine 
but with Dr. Richardson's hand over the Psychic's mouth and nose 
and no one else in the room. To further complicate this experiment, 
Walter said one night, "Now, Mark (one of Walter's band) will 
blow through the Barium water and there will be no precipitation. 
He will bring his own gas with him." The Psychic blew up the 
voice-machine, Walter talked, the bubbles came through the baryta 
water and examination afterwards showed no precipitation in the 
bottle. When Dr. Richardson blew through the same baryta water, 
however, normal precipitation occurred. This showed that some gas 
other than carbonic acid passed through the bottle in this experiment. 

15. Apports and deports. On this part of the manifestations we 
bear lightly. It includes moving objects into and out of a closed 
room. They are most difficult to believe. They involve either the 
actual existence of a four-dimensional world or depend on the very 
latest concept of matter, namely energy and the motion of atoms 
without collisions whereby one solid may pass through another. These 
are discontinuous physical phenomena. Together with haunts, ghosts 
and psychometry, apports form a class difficult for science to explain 
without turning to discarnate entities. 

In this mediumship there have been ten instances of apport and one 
of deport. They include antique jewelry, flowers and a live pigeon. 
The conditions of each occasion have been good, but really to be of 
scientific value such manifestations would have to appear with the 
psychic enclosed in cement and sitting in an all cement cell. Pre- 
sumption of validity must rest : ( 1 ) on search of medium, sitters and 
the room, and (2) on the nature of the thing apported and whether 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 93 

it could be normally obtained, secreted and delivered under the 
seance conditions. 

16- A. Paraffine Gloves. (Figure 7). Another line of ex- 
perimentation on which extended reports will be made later, is the 
making of paraffine gloves. There are put on low stools in front of 
the Psychic, a papier-mache pail containing 8 quarts of melted par- 
affine on top of 3 or 4 inches of boiling water (making the tempera- 
ture 212 when it leaves the kitchen, and 180 at the end of the ex- 
periment), and beside this pail a galvanized pail full of cold water. 
Through the sitting, under controlled conditions, we hear a lot of 
flopping about in both pails as if a large fish were in one or the other. 
At the end of the sitting, 30 to 60 minutes, we find in the pail of 
water or alongside it, one, two to three gloves made of the molten 
paraffine, now hardened. In the wrist end is a small hole out of 
which no human hand could get. These gloves may now be filled 
with an emulsion of Plaster of Paris. When this is hardened the 
paraffine is melted off and we have a cast of the psychic glove. This 
cast of a hand is not that of the medium, is always masculine, and 
may resemble that of one of the sitters. It is needless to say that 
at the end of the sitting, before anyone moves, every hand is examined 
for traces of paraffine. The hand so far has always been a right 
hand and the casts show finger-tip markings not like those of any 
sitter. The Psychic's husband has a deformed right index-nail which 
has never been seen in one of the casts. The end-joint of a finger is 
sometimes formed. Two gloves in one unit have been formed, palm 
to palm, and both are rights. Similar experiments, with striking per- 
fection, have been conducted by Klusky, the Polish (amateur) 
medium. 

16-B. The Finger- prints. One of the latest experiments has 
turned out to be one of the most impressive. We take a plate of 
dental wax (called "Kerr") and make it soft by immersion in boiling 
water. Every sitter now makes his two thumb-prints on a cake of 
the wax and each is labeled with the name of the sitter. A similar 
cake, marked for identification, is now put in a shallow dish of hot 
water in front of the medium, in trance, under strict conditions of 
search and control, in a searched room. After a while Walter says, 
"There's my thumb-print for you," and examination of the marked 
cake shows a thumb-print which is not that of any sitter. In ad- 
dition, five nights later the same experiment shows a print of the 
identical thumb as the first night, and still not that of any sitter. In 



94 L. R. G. CRANDON 

all we have seven prints, six of which are negatives and one a pos- 
itive. A Police Captain, who has charge of the finger-print bureau 
of criminals in a large city, has been asked to study these prints. He 
says that all seven are identical with each other and are not those of 
any of the sitters. 

If you will reflect upon this simple and yet amazing experiment 
you will see that it must form one of the last facts to establish the 
presence in the room of a person not one of us. 

The clinching factor of uniqueness in this mediumship comes when 
three cameras, one on the east, one on the west, and one on the north, 
the latter having a fused-quartz lens, record the materializations 
which our eyes have seen. Hypnotism and hallucination are thus 
eliminated. We have over 100 such photographs. 

17. The Subjective Walter. The Margery mediumship is es- 
sentially physical in its manifestations. Nevertheless, one cannot 
talk night after night, over 500 times, with a voice from the cab- 
inet, without feeling acquainted with the intelligent owner of 
the voice. In this way, as in every human contact, we have learned 
to know and to love the apparent personality which declares itself 
to be Walter. From this long period of communication, naturally, 
we have picked up bits of information as to the state of being in 
which Walter finds himself and get, from time to time, glimpses of 
his methods and vistas of his world. 

Walter is good-naturedly willing to be called a "secondary per- 
sonality," a "hypnotic impersonation", a "mindkin" (C. D. Broad), 
a "prosopopesis" (Sudre) or "entelechy" (Driesch). In fact, he 
says, "You may call me anything but 'It'!" 

Seance action presents three elements : ( 1 ) There is the "prosopo- 
pesis" which, genuinely or fictitiously presents the picture of the 
presence and activity of a personality from another world. (2) 
There is the cryptesthesia, the display of knowledge or abilities which 
the medium could not normally own. (3) There is the physical 
action, the display of mechanical effects that go beyond what mech- 
anistic science can explain. 

From an early date this mediumship has been characterized by the 
free whispered conversation of the control. Thanks to Dr. Richard- 
son, we have proved that over long intervals of the seance, this 
whisper is a physico-psychic phenomenon. This brings us to con- 
sideration, from the subjective viewpoint, of what Walter says. 
His conversation is different from that of the average control, and 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 95 

sitters find contact with him a correspondingly new experience. He 
does not sermonize or pass out messages from one's deceased friends ; 
he simply takes a normal part in the social and scientific interplay of 
conversation. Believer or unbeliever or straddler, the sitter goes 
away with a lively sense of having met Walter. 

An ingenious observation of this medium was made by Dr. H. C. 
Longwell, Professor of Philosophy at Princeton. He said in effect: 
It is apparent that when Walter talks while he is carrying on a phys- 
ical experiment, that the talk is distracted like that of anyone who 
talks while he works. This proves the doer and the talker to be one. 
But we prove by the lashed control that the psychic is not the doer, 
hence the psychic is not the talker. 

From long experience we feel justified in attempting to classify 
the subjective side of the mediumship into four groups: 

A. Physical phenomena plus a subjective factor possibly telepathic. 

B. Physical phenomena plus a subjective factor from which tele- 
pathy is excluded. 

C. Pure subjective matter from which telepathy is excluded. The 
instances which I shall cite under these headings will be suggestive 
of subdivision. Thus, under A, we have a large group of phenomena 
which we may classify together as: 

A-l : Identification by Walter of objects known to sitter. 

This performance has been given at 76 sittings; it is a current 
feature, so the number increases weekly. I will not describe again 
the control against possible normal knowledge in the totally dark room 
by the psychic. Confederacy, the only refuge left the impervious 
skeptic, would call for participation by an absurd number of per- 
sons not known to Margery prior to their appearance in her seance 
room, plus a system of silent signalling between remote parts of the 
dark room. 

The more thoughtful skeptic will perhaps fall back upon visual 
hyperaesthesia. On July 26th, 1925, Mr. Bird was present, but stayed 
out of the circle. During the entire seance he stood directly behind 
the psychic, controlling her hands by reaching over her shoulders, 
and controlling her head when necessary by contact with his own. 
His outlook across the circle therefore coincided with hers. The 
darkness was such that after an hour, he was still unable to observe 
the slightest silhouetting of the sitters at the far side of the circle. If 
the psychic can see with her eyes under such conditions, this is itself 
a psychic phenomenon. 



96 L. R. G. CRANDON 

During the period in question, a penknife, a magnifying glass in 
a leather case, some paper money, a purse, a hairpin, a shoe and a pair 
of scissors were placed on the table by one sitter or another, and all 
completely identified by Walter. A commutation ticket was stated 
to be a piece of card or paper, and a toothpick to be "too personal" 
for naming. No other objects were offered, so there were no failures. 
The hairpin was put out when a male sitter, called upon for a con- 
tribution, robbed his neighbor to subject Walter to a searching test. 
Walter's response was unusually prompt : "Ha, Eddie ; thought you'd 
fool me, did you? Laura, pick up your hairpin." 

This performance stands apart from most of Walter's identifica- 
tions of objects, in that several of the contributions were placed on 
the table remote from Margery, the identifications being made ap- 
parently by a pseudo-visual process, with no apparent contact. Usual- 
ly, several objects are collected in a basket which is placed close to 
the psychic, under all control. The objects then, to such degree as 
their nature permits, are heard being handled by Walter's teleplasmic 
terminals, identification proceeding by what is in part, at least a 
tactile process. Errors, though vastly in the minority, are always in- 
structive. Thus a card-case and a pocket-book may be mixed; a $20 
gold piece was called a half-dollar, the error being at once corrected, 
etc. 

Walter's treatment of the objects handed out for identification is 
always brilliantly consistent with his claims of personal identity. Thus 
in dealing with a small barrette, he said that it was from a lady's 
hair, but not a comb the failure to name it being decidedly a mas- 
culine touch. By failure actually to name an object of recent de- 
sign, or in some other detail of his description or comment, he fre- 
quently shows a state of knowledge corresponding closely to his date 
of death. Doubtless a sufficiently intense study might produce the 
same result on a basis of impersonation ; but the showing made here 
is an extremely consistent one, and in any event the more direct ex- 
planation is easier. 

A-2: Description of conditions in the dark room, known to a sit- 
ter or within a sitter's subconscious range of knowledge. 

This category includes only physical conditions in the room which 
would not be known to the psychic if she were engaged in a fraud- 
ulent operation. This bars any statement which Walter makes as 
to the condition in which we will find the scales on the coming of 
light, the manner in which the bell-box will behave in the next 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 97 

episode, etc. But if we make this confession, it must be understood 
that we do so merely as a convention, and not because of absence of 
control at critical moments. It must be appreciated that this is a con- 
cession, in that an important part of our contact with Walter and our 
sense of his presence comes through the living parallelism between 
what he does and what he says. 

Perhaps the most frequent item under this head arises when Walter 
(or a sitter) calls for some piece of apparatus; but nobody knows in 
the dark where it is. As an alternative to turning on the red light 
and looking for it, Walter often tells us where it is. Lest one think 
of this as normal knowledge, the product of careful observation prior 
to the seance, I must say that the faculty works with reference to ob- 
jects handled by sitters before or during the seance in such a way as 
to defeat this explanation. 

Remarks like "What are you looking so glum about?" or "Why 
the smile?" are often thrown at sitters by Walter and always ac- 
knowledged as pertinent. As a measure of the range of this faculty, 
we have tried numerous experiments such as holding up a hand and 
asking Walter how many fingers are open; and in general he can 
answer such questions only after teleplasmic contact. The generali- 
zation has been hazarded, and accepted by Walter, that the bodily 
conditions which he can sense in a sitter without contact are those 
indicating a state of mind. 

Yet at times he clearly transgresses this limitation. Thus he re- 
marked to a very frequent sitter: "Judge, that's an odd bracelet on 
your left arm. There was a bracelet, and none knew it save the 
wearer. On another occasion, 5 Walter knew that the bell-box had 
been tampered with in a very specific way; and he made an accusa- 
tion of guilt which has never been successfully disproved. 

With the identification of objects Walter often displays what we 
may best recognize as a psychometric faculty. One of several ob- 
jects in the basket for identification is often associated correctly with 
one of the sitters, or described in terms of association or use rather 
than by name. A clothespin which I deposited so quietly that not 
even the person carrying the basket knew of its presence led Walter 
to protest against bringing in "this thing from Harvard". It was 
in fact one used by the group of young men in their attempt to cast 
discredit upon the mediumship. 



*Bird: Margery, the Medium, p. 430. 



98 L. R. G. CRANDON 

B-l : Identification by Walter of objects known to no sitter. 

The following procedure is employed: Any sitter is permitted to 
go out and buy a new pack of cards, bringing it in with him and 
taking it to the seance room with the Government seal intact and 
without ever letting it pass out of his hands. In the seance room 
in total darkness, he breaks the seal and removes cards from the 
deck at random, one at a time. He places a card on the table, not 
even knowing it is face up or down. Within twenty seconds Walter 
names it; the sitter who has placed it recovers it and disposes of it 
in such a manner as to make it possible to jot down that the six of 
diamonds (say) is now alleged to be in Mr, A's custody. Each sub- 
sequent card goes to a different sitter and is duly recorded. The pro- 
cess continues until each sitter has a card ; and the explanation by con- 
federacy would then require that every person present be in the plot 
and that the back pattern of cards to be brought in be known in ad- 
vance! In twenty-seven seances, totalling at least 200 separate iden- 
tifications, Walter had made no error of any description while using 
this method. Once he drew the trade-mark card, and for identifica- 
tion read off the one word of large letters Guaranteed which it 
carried. 

This accident led to another type of experiment. The sitter brings 
to the seance any magazine; and in the dark he tears out an adver- 
tising page at random and puts this on the table. Within thirty 
seconds Walter reads the words of larger type or characterizes the 
picture. 

The latest development here comes with the introduction by Dr. 
Richardson of some large wooden numbers and letters, made for 
children's games. They are four inches high and an inch in square 
section. When first brought in (January 5th, 1926,) the psychic 
did not see them beforehand and did not know what was in the box. 
Under strictest control, already described, the utmost leeway for 
hand or foot motion is two inches, for the head, three inches. Dr. 
Richardson took letters out of the box, in the seance darkness, and 
piled them up, without order, in a basket on the floor at the side of 
the entranced psychic's feet. One could shortly hear them being 
handled, necessarily by the teleplasmic terminals. Walter proceeded 
to pick out letters which he needed to spell words and names, the 
action being accompanied by running fire of his inimitable humorous 
comment. Then he picked out letters at random, naming each as he 
threw it at a sitter. Mr. Hill asked for a number if there were one: 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 99 

Walter threw one at him with the statement that it was a "2". The 
sitters could not quite tell in the dark whether it was a "2" or a "5" 
but later examination showed Walter to be correct. Walter calls 
this "his intelligence-test". On this night there were no errors in his 
identification. Asked how he did it, he replied: "By feeling them, 
just as you do." Occasional errors, as D for O are of a sort to bear 
this out. This experiment has been repeated over 100 times. Owing 
to the size of the letters, it is easy for a sitter to pick them up and 
place them in the basket, grasping one limb of the wooden piece 
between two fingers in such a way as to have no idea what character 
he is handling. The psychic can not see the letters nor by any pos- 
sibility touch them. 

B-2: Description of dark-room conditions unknown to any sitter. 

Only rarely can we state confidently in the utter ignorance of all 
present of any given psychical fact of the seance ensemble. Cases 
occur, however, usually in connection with derangement of the 
physical apparatus provided for Walter's psychic work. The earliest 
incident is 6 one where an electric mechanism under wrap and seal 
was stated by Walter to be inoperative and found to be so. The same 
thing recurred in Dr. Comstock's apartment, 7 in connection with his 
contact table. Walter has called attention to the fact that the bell-box 
spring was broken ; he has explained a hiatus in his work by inform- 
ing us that the basket was caught between the chair and the cabinet. 

In general one must refrain from citing Walter's knowledge of the 
outcome of his experiments, in deference to the obvious scientific pro- 
prieties; though we look forward to the day when, in mediumships 
that have been through the fire as has this one, common admission of 
validity will make it possible to study with profit such points as this, 
which must today be passed by. But we have one instance where 
Walter's knowledge of results was so hopelessly beyond what the 
psychic could have known on any theory whatever that it must be 
included here. 

A photograph was being taken in the hope of showing teleplasmic 
formations. At Walter's signal, Mr. Conant discharged the flash- 
light, following which, no sitter could do other than wait the devel- 
opment of the plate. But Walter spoke up : "That one won't be any 
good; Aleck (one of Walter's crowd) got in the way." And on 



6 Bird: Margery, the Medium, p. 289. 
7 Ibid., p. 400. 



100 L. R. G. CRANDON 

developing the plate, where the table and the psychic and the ad- 
jacent sitters ought to appear, there was found nothing but a form- 
less white blur. One should not insist too strongly upon Walter's 
version of what happened to spoil this picture. Upon the super- 
normal character of his knowledge that it was spoiled, one must 
insist. The psychic knows nothing about photography. 

We come now to the incidents where, with no relation to the phys- 
ical part of the seances, Walter has displayed a knowledge which the 
psychic could not have had. There is a large body of this sort of 
thing from the early history of the mediumship which is satisfactory 
to me, which I would not cite to another because it involves things 
that I or others might conceivably have told the psychic. One recog- 
nizes the element of fallibility here, and only mentions it merely 
as illustrating the sort of thing which one withholds. 

C-l : Relation by Walter of facts from outside the seance room, 

known to some sitter but not the psychic. 

Walter once addressed the recipient of the bracelet item above, in 
the words: "Judge, you nearly lost your life today in that taxi in 
Park Square. You didn't see how close to the edge you were you 
were too busy reading that book/' This described with all precision 
an incident of the afternoon, occurring at a time when we are very 
certain the psychic was not in Park Square. The Judge and certain 
other sitters seem particularly amenable to this sort of thing; 
other sitters, whose daily routine would appear to offer much greater 
scope for it, seem quite impervious. Undoubtedly the sitter must 
make a contribution of some sort in episodes of this character a con- 
tribution which with some persons is possible and with others not. 

Despite his repugnance to "message bearing," Walter now and 
again reports the name and some incident out of the earth life of a 
discarnate whom he states to be present for a given sitter. He has 
to his credit brilliant successes with total strangers, and no actual 
error. With sitters appearing in "Who's Who", he always gives 
names and events, sometimes of extreme personal significance, which 
could not have been got from the volume named. Once we sat for 
over an hour with no phenomena; next night Walter explained that 
his whole attention had gone to keeping order among some "wild 
women" who had come (from his side) with one of the sitters; and 
this was found to be brilliantly applicable. In the presence of sitters 
with a history of seance-room inhibition quite unknown to any of us, 
we have had blank or disturbed sittings of the sort which the history 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 101 

would have called for. It is obviously impossible within these limita- 
tions of space to make any rigorous showing in behalf of the psy- 
chic's essential ignorance of all these factors; hence no such attempt 
is made. 

Mr. J. Malcolm Bird gives permission to cite the following out- 
line of his best experience of subjective content with Walter. In two 
sittings with another medium, 500 miles from Boston, he encountered 
a spirit control who stated himself to be Walter; who in some ways 
displayed good Lime Street technique, of a sort not to be got by 
reading the literature. At the first opportunity, and with all care to 
reveal nothing, Mr. Bird questioned Walter in Lime Street about 
this. While refusing to state clearly that it had not been he, Walter 
gave the atmosphere of a cryptic denial. But the vital feature was 
his knowledge, displayed incidentally in the conversation, of what 
occurred in the remote sittings. He knew the medium's name, and 
pronounced it correctly, though such feat involves a barbarous an- 
glitization of a pure German name, which could not possibly be given 
correctly from the mere spelling. He knew the name of a spirit 
control who functioned, and in a general way what she did and said. 
He has a detailed knowledge of the medium's appearance and man- 
nerisms, though Margery had certainly never seen him; and he had 
correct general information about the status of another sitter. Finally, 
as a sop to the advocate of telepathic interpretation, he gave an es- 
timate of this mediumship agreeing in every detail with Mr. Bird's 
unexpressed judgment. 

C-2: Relation by Walter of facts from outside the seance room, 
unknown to any sitter but known to some outsider. 

The new category is made out of deference to those who cannot 
agree as to the possible range of telepathy. The best incident is 
rather parallel to the last one. A telegram arrived from A. W. G. 
in Buffalo: "Ask Walter what night this week, if any, he was in 
Buffalo; and what happened". That evening Walter replied: "I was 
at the Buffalo Circle Friday; I whistled 'Souvenir;' They may not 
have heard it all." A. W. G. comments on this: "During our sit- 
ting Friday, three of us heard the first two bars of 'Souvenir* ap- 
parently from no mouth in the room." Possibilities of collusion are 
sufficient to prevent this narrative from attaining first scientific rank ; 
but it suggests possible future experiments under better control. 

Less striking intrinsically but stronger in its critical aspect is an 
incident wholly localized in Boston. Dr. S. was expected at the sit- 



102 L. R. G. CRANDON 

ting in his own car; he failed to appear. During the seance there 
were noises in the street, obviously from an automobile but other- 
wise indeterminate. Walter said: "Your friend is at the door. He 
came in a taxi. (Contrary to expectation). He looks like a woolly 
bear. He looked at the house and went away ; but he will be back." 
(prediction). Ten minutes later Dr. S. rang the bell. His car had 
broken down ; he had finished the trip by taxi ; uncertain of the house 
number, he looked in vain for a door-plate; then he drove around 
the corner to consult a directory. He wore a shaggy new fur coat. 

D. Coming to group D, where the possibility of telepathic expla- 
nation does not exist, we face a difficult problem. In the absence of a 
careful staging, with careful elimination of all possibility that any 
living person may know the facts involved, we cannot come into this 
classification save through predictive incidents. We have never at- 
tempted this elaborate staging, and hence are reduced to such episodes 
of prevision as the three years of the mediumship afford. They are 
numerous ; but few or none are free from obvious weak points. The 
one that comes nearest to the standard is Walter's prediction (June, 
1924) that one of the intimate circle would "pass over" inside four 
months, realized through the death of Mr. Alexander W. Cross in 
September, Over seventy times in sixteen months Walter has said 
concerning a sitter of the early days of the mediumship: "Give him 
my love and tell him I will see him soon." He is now dead. 

In classes A and B, control of the psychic is of paramount im- 
portance. Once it is clear that such control is adequate, the super- 
normality of these elements is established. For classes A and C 
we have to consider the telepathic possibility. But taking these 
classes on their merits, it seems to me that telepathy is a harder ex- 
planation than either of the alternatives: 

(1) That there is at work an extension of physical perception 
something to which the term metagnomy is applicable; or (2) That 
we have to do with a separate entity, freed from certain of the phys- 
ical limitations which circumscribe our own apperceptive powers. 

When we line these groups up beside B and D, the inadequacy of 
the telepathic theory to cover all that occurs reacts upon its accept- 
ability as covering a fraction of what occurs. As for these two latter 
groups, the alternatives which they present are somewhat different. 
Apparently we are to choose between: (3) A form of cognitive 
exaltation in the living psychic, the exercise of which is usually un- 
recognized; or (4) A thinking entity, functioning consciously on a 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 103 

plane where the time factor operates differently from here; where 
perhaps time constitutes a new dimension, rather than an inflexible in- 
dication of mere sequence. 

If we elect alternative (3) here, we still need the remarks about 
the time factor from (4). At this point we find ourselves come to a 
conclusion: that in our metapsychic field we have use and necessity 
for the latest developments of orthodox science. And we see that 
these relativistic doctrines are quite as essential to the spiritistic phil- 
osophy, that they harmonize quite as strongly with it, as when super- 
imposed upon the prosopopetical dogma. The advantage which comes 
to prosopopesis from ultra modern physics and mathematics belongs 
no less to spiritism. 

The experiments along the lines suggested are well-nigh infinite. 
These experiments present a side of the Margery mediumship which 
is only just beginning. Taken with the mechanical demonstration 
that Walter's voice is independent of the psychic's anatomy and 
physiology, and with all the other advances which we make from 
time to time in the physical aspect of the investigation, this holds out 
a new and strong suggestion of the presence in the room of an in- 
telligence not any part of any sitter. This intelligence, we know, 
functionates in a state of being so different from the one in which 
we consciously act that we have only today discovered it, and still 
have the utmost difficulty in seeking a glimmer of comprehension 
of it. 

In reply to the inevitable questions asked of Walter by the hun- 
dreds of persons who have met him in the seance room, he has from 
time to time given us glimpses of his state of existence and his sur- 
roundings, as he would have us picture them. The dominant note 
here is his insistence upon the substantial continuity between our 
present life and the one into which he says he has passed. His 
mental outlook includes ours but goes a little further; his physical 
or super-physical world includes ours but goes a little beyond it in 
such elements as those of sense-machinery and dimensionality. He 
once put this every cleverly when, in response to a sitter's query: 
"Do you use our landscape, Walter?" he shot back: "No; you use 
ours!" He disclaims any crucial difference between his state of 
knowledge and ours, denies anything approaching omniscience; al- 
leging that he, too, is to a large degree experimenting. 

Many of the vistas which he gives us into what he presents as the 
life beyond the grave should be of extreme interest to the modern 



104 L. R. G. CRANDON 

physicist and mathematician; for they carry large connotations of a 
relativistic scheme of things. So strong is this element, we are told 
by an authority in the two fields of relativity and psychic research, 
that one ignorant of seance room phenomena but acquainted with the 
work of Einstein and Minkowski would prophesy that many of the 
things occurring in the seance room ought to be found among the 
phenomena of our world. Perhaps of equal significance is another 
fact to which attention is with increasing emphasis being drawn. In 
its ideas of progressive atonement for earthly errors, in a picture 
of an intermediate state to which the name of purgatory seems al- 
most applicable. In many other details the philosophy which Walter 
would have us accept as dominating thought and conduct in his world 
shows a parallelism to orthodox Catholic theology, as striking as its 
physical parallelism with the newest concepts of time and space. 

The philosophers from the Greeks to the present day tell us that 
this is a world of phenomena, of appearances, and behind the appear- 
ances, which our senses bring to us, there is a reality. But our senses 
are all we have to live by and if we believe them in the ordinary 
affairs of life, we must in the seance room. We know that that which 
appears solid is not so, that each atom is a universe of protons and 
electrons, that of a given solid object only one-millionth part is mat- 
ter and the rest is space, comparable to the distance between the stars. 
Our poor eyes see from the red to violet but we have very definite 
knowledge of a world of light beyond the violet. The quartz lens 
camera shows us constantly objects which the eye has not seen. In 
this field also are the X-ray and many therapeutic rays, wholly in- 
visible to the human eye. The manifestations of the seance room 
are childish entertainment, unless true. The truth is one. We feel 
bound to go on recording. 

In an original poem, Walter puts it thus : 

"There is a plan far greater than the one you know, 

There is a landscape broader than the one you see." 
* * * 

The final big question that must arise in every mind is: "Well, 
what is the good of all this? Where does it get you?" The answer 
is complete enough even now, and not far to seek. 

1. The physical manifestations of the seance-room are real and 
valid sensorial experiences. Once that validity is established, the 
experiments will become respectable, and more data will pour in. 
The truth that lies here, when established, must fit into the ultimate 



THE MARGERY MEDIUMSHIP 105 

^tory of man's knowledge of the universe. Before facts, one must 
sit as a little child. 

2. Psychic research establishes apparent facts, however, not only 
of the tangible material world but of a world outside our senses, the 
psychic realm of the human entity. That almost untrodden region 
calls to the intrepid explorer "Come, search me, and find me out, for 
in me is the secret of that which never dies." 

There is nothing more likely than that in the honest, patient study 
of this subject, may ultimately be found a solution, scientifically 
sound, of the problem of the continuance of the conscious entity be- 
yond the change called death, a problem hitherto relegated to the 
dominion of pure faith. 

3. But wholly disregarding the side of this problem that points 
towards individual survival and return, there is a soul-stirring 
glimpse of man's possible future powers granted us. In the proved 
production in a few minutes of these teleplasmic hands and intel- 
ligent terminals, we get a sudden vision of an apparent creation of 
matter. The spirit and human will, whether it be resident in the 
medium or a spirit entity, causes under our eyes the apparent pro- 
duction of solid matter. The architect conceives the cathedral, and 
it is laboriously made real. The mother conceives the child and in 
due time it is there. Some spirit, here or there, in the cabinet, con- 
ceives and wills the materialization of part or the whole of the human 
apparition. It is there for scientific measurement and study. 

4. Psychic Research has about as much to do with religion as golf. 
Nevertheless, it is going to be one of the most important factors in 
changing not religion but religious concepts and beliefs. The end 
will be good but the interim unsettling. 

Science is bankrupt at the edge of the grave. Religion only offers 
a sleepy comfort. Psychic research will not only kill Materialism 
which is already dying, but knock out Agnosticism which is the pre- 
valent condition of our college graduate. It will prove that man 
is a spirit, that the whole universe is spiritual, that matter is spirit 
attuned to vibrations which our bodily senses can perceive in our 
present state of development; that death of the body is a biologic and 
chemical change and not a religious or holy affair except in the way 
that a birth, a graduation, a marriage is sacred, or holy, or im- 
portant. The critics of psychic research are the same old gang who 
tortured and burnt the free-thinker; they are the members of the 
Sanhedrin who cried "Crucify! Crucify !" And they have carried it 



106 L. R O. CRANDON 

out, physically, if they could, but otherwise mentally, professionally 
and socially. In spite of all this, Roosevelt had it right when he said : 
"The grandest sport in the world is to champion an unpopular cause 
when you know you are right.*' 

"Vast, indeed, and difficult is the inquirer's prospect here and the 
most significant data for his advance will probably be just these 
dingy little mediumistic facts which the scientific minds of our time 
find so unworthy of their attention. But when was not a science 
of the future stirred to its conquering activities by the little rebellious 
exceptions to the science of the present? It is through following 
these facts I am persuaded, that the greatest scientific conquests are 
about to be achieved." 

Bergson, in his fine presidential address to the Society for Psy- 
chical Research, 1913, said that he had sometimes wondered what 
would have happened if modern science, instead of setting out from 
mathematics, instead of bringing all its forces to converge on the 
study of matter, had begun by the consideration of mind ; if Kepler, 
Galileo, and Newton, for instance, had been psychologists, we should 
certainly have had a psychology of which today we can form no idea, 
any more than before Galileo we could have imagined what our phys- 
ics would be; a psychology that probably would have been to our 
present psychology what our physics is to Aristotle's. Foreign to 
every mechanistic idea, not even conceiving the possibility of such an 
explanation, science would have inquired into, instead of dismissing 
a priori, facts such as those which we study; perhaps psychical re- 
search would have stood out as its principal preoccupation. The most 
general laws of mental activity once discovered (as in fact the fun- 
damental laws of mechanics were discovered), we should have passed 
from mind, properly so-called to life. Biology would have been 
developed as a science, but a vital biology, quite different from ours, 
which would have sought behind the sensible forms of living beings 
the inward, invisible force of which the sensible forms are the 
manifestations. 

"We should have gone very far in what at present we call the un- 
known or the occult, but we should have known less of physics, 
chemistry, or mechanics, unless which is very probable, we should 
have come upon them by another road as we travelled round the 
occult. 

"Perhaps from the summit of our understanding we will at last 



THE MARGERY MBDIUMSHIP 107 

receive help from outside and hear a voice that is something more 
than an echo of our own. 

"It is true that by deliberately rejecting everything that does not 
bear the stamp of mathematical or judicial certainty, we risk losing, 
as we go along, most of the opportunities or clues which the great 
riddle of this world offers, using its moments of inattention or gra- 
ciousness. At the beginning of our inquiry we must know how to 
content ourselves with little. 

"Think of it. It would be monstrous and inexplicable that we 
should be only what we appear to be, nothing but ourselves, whole 
and complete in ourselves, separated, isolated, circumscribed by our 
bodies, our consciousness, our birth, and our death. We become 
possible and probable only on the conditions that we project beyond 
ourselves on every side, and that we stretch in every direction through- 
out time and space." 

We bespeak, therefore, from you, the "open mind." "In my 
Father's house are many mansions" has become almost scientific. For 
the scientist today talks of a world not only of three dimensions but 
of many more. He talks of infinites. The last thing that the scien- 
tist will say if he is a true one is: "The thing is impossible." 

If one is a true scientist, then, the whole problem of life after 
death must be approached with a completely open mind. "Nature 
has far more secrets to reveal than have yet been disclosed. One of 
the most characteristic achievements of science has been to prove 
to us that things are not what they seem. To the ordinary mind, 
the most real reality is what we see and touch. But that may not 
be the most real reality at all. To a more accurate seeing, the most 
real reality may be thought, purpose and will. Consider for a mo- 
ment. The countless things that make up our humanly constructed 
world are created by thought, purpose and will. Is not the Creator 
likely to be far more real than the created? 

"What, now, is an individual person? He is a focus, so to speak, 
of thought, purpose and will. It may be, then that as a focus of 
thought, purpose and will, he possesses a reality far more profound 
and lasting than the reality of so-called matter. 

"Will he survive death ? We do not know. What is the function 
of death? We do not now know. But that this present focussing 
point of thought, purpose and will is simply to be cast on the ash- 
heap of the universe, we are less and less able to believe. 

"We are already scientifically convinced of the indestructibility of 



108 L. R. G. CRANDON 

matter. We shall, I think, also become convinced of the indestructi- 
bility of those peculiar forms of reality which we call thought, pur- 
pose and will. If the latter are indeed indestructible, what forms 
will they take? We do not yet know. Death may usher them to a 
complete re-birth from which all memory of the past has vanished, 
or it may usher them to a re-birth from which only part of the past 
has vanished. We do not know. 

"Assuming, however, that the most real reality is this focussing- 
point of thought, purpose and will in individual life, the great task of 
the coming years will be to look for all possible evidence of the ways 
in which this deeper kind of reality gets transformed by the peculiar 
episode of death. William James long ago poured out his scorn at 
the scientists who were too dogmatic ,to admit psychic research into 
the holy of holies of science. The true scientist will be fearless 
enough to follow along James's trail. He will eagerly search in the 
region of supernormal phenomena for evidences for and against sur- 
vival after death. 

"At present I do not believe that we have come to the point where 
we can say that anything has been 100% proved scientifically, for or 
against. Science, however, is emerging from its period of materialism. 
It is realizing that there is a profounder reality than so-called mat- 
ter. It is, therefore, not impossible to believe that through accurate 
experimentation with supernormal psychical phenomena, we shall be 
able to tell, with some measure of precision, what happens, through 
death, to this most real reality of all which we call the human per- 
sonality." 

As for us, we are not propagandists for a "new revelation." We 
do not seek the support of all the world. Our recompense is to have 
grasped new truths, to have delved deeper into the great mystery of 
the nature of the mind. We would wish, however, to have a scien- 
tific audience. We demand only a simple effort of good will yes, 
let us say it, of honesty ; for it is not honest to deny without trying to 
examine fairly. And to the dogmatist, we offer this last word of 
Claude Bernard: "The truly scientific mind ought to make us 
moderate and tolerant. We all know, in reality, very little about 
things, and we are all fallible in the face of the immense difficulties 
involved in the investigation of natural phenomena." 

As Driesch puts it, "We are in the Galvani period: facts without 
explanation. We want to enter the Faraday period : laws established 



THE MARGE&Y MEDIUMSHIP 109 

by experiment. I am sure we shall enter it some day. And I am 
also sure that, when we shall have entered it, a good many of those 
who are not our friends at present will say, 'we have always said so.' " 
366 Commonwealth Avenue, 
Boston, Massachusetts. 



CHAPTER V 
A SUBJECTIVE STUDY OF DEATH 



BY MARY AUSTIN 



No one making a cursory survey of the various modes of research 
by which it is modernly attempted to demonstrate the continuity of 
individual existence beyond death can fail to be struck by the fact 
that they are practically all of them based upon the evidence of direct 
communication with the survivors. Nowhere is there any extended 
inquiry into the possible relation of survival to the crisis of death, 
nor to the quality of the psyche upon which survival is predicated. 
In this we violate all the natural logic of every other current form 
of psychic research. 

It cannot be denied that the individual interest would naturally 
take the form of ardently desiring communication with the beloved 
-dead, nor that such interest tends to give an acute public attention to 
this department of inquiry. But it is not natural for us in any other 
crisis of living to insist on the ability to return to a previous con- 
dition as an indispensable evidence of progression. The new born 
child returns not to the womb, nor does the adult become a child 
again, however many the lapses of memory between those states. 
History denies neither the past nor the future on the ground that 
they do not occur simultaneously in our consciousness; nor is the 
evolution of man through an endless chain of physical life refuted by 
our individual unawareness of such evolution at any given epoch of it. 
What we do assume of all these stages of being, individual or racial, 
is that, rightly studied, they yield prophetic or reminiscent evidence of 
continuity, informing not only to the observer, but to the recipient. 

Before birth the child stirs ; modern psychology is now insisting that 
it receives impressions which modify after-birth experiences. Before 
puberty there are both physical and mental alterations of so pro- 
nounced a character that it becomes our chief educational concern to 
handle them. Is it not logical to suppose that there might be notice 
of the nature of the approaching change, quite as important to be 
studied as anything which might be imagined to occur after bodily 
dissolution has taken place? 

I do not now refer to reflexes, due to illness, arising in the gradual 



112 MARY AUSTIN 

process of physical breakdown. Since we are profoundly convinced 
of the absolute resolution of the body to its chemical components, 
we must regard survival as purely subjective in its nature ; so much so 
that the failure of that subjective part of us to demonstrate itself 
by objective phenomena after death can never be accepted as proof 
positive of the failure of survival. But in a general way the altera- 
tions of the individual during adolescence are so far subjective that 
any delay in the appearance of the characteristic subjectivity of ado- 
lescence is regarded as abnormal, just as failure of the stir of unborn 
life is so regarded. 

Assuming that we have a right to be as logical about death as 
about any other human experience, let us consider whether there may 
not be interior evidence of the nature of death, which can be sub- 
jected to the same scientific scrutiny we have lately given to the nature 
of adolescence. What phenomena of the spirit, in anticipation of the 
crisis called death, do we observe which may be indicative of the 
future of that spirit in the same way that the psychology of adolescence 
indicates the future of the living individual ? 

Inevitably such a study would concern itself with the subjective 
consciousness of man, with whatever part of him might be supposed 
to be capable of going on independently of the material frame and 
its purely objective existence. Such study would normally concern 
itself, first of all, with the origins of consciousness, and with its modes 
of progression. Should the intense and scholarly inquiry which is 
being pursued continuously, result in any positive knowledge of the 
nature and origin of consciousness, it would undoubtedly be found to 
bear directly upon the problem of survival. But pending such il- 
lumination, in what other direction and by what methods could in- 
quiry profitably be made? Where shall we look, in the nature of 
living man, what shall we look for, and by what marks shall we 
identify and how interpret interior evidence of the continuity of 
man's livingness? 

The writer, having spent many years under circumstances that 
afforded a more than ordinary acquaintance with the ways of animals, 
and with people whose trade is about animals, both domestic and 
wild, would begin such a study with the death customs and behaviors 
of the younger brothers of mankind. That animals can die of psychic 
shock such shock as is frequently the result of capture and captivity 
even under great kindness and real anxiety on the part of the captor 
to induce them to live is well known. That animals have difficulty 



A SUBJECTIVE STUDY OF DEATH 113 

in understanding death as an objective reality any one can convince 
himself who has opportunity to observe ewes returning again and 
again to the decaying clot of hide and bones which was once a lamb, 
or watch a dog trying to warm her drowned puppy into living re- 
sponse. That the lower animals can subjectively appreciate death to 
the point of actually seeking it as a release has been so definitely 
asserted by hunters and naturalists, that it deserves to be brought 
under the kind of scrutiny that would reduce the assertion to fact. 
That animals kill one another out of deliberate enmity and with no 
reference to food is as well known as that they grieve themselves to 
death over the loss of a mate or a master. That animals in peril have 
somehow managed to disturb the minds of their masters at the mo- 
ment of dissolution we have a number of instances related by people 
whose word would be taken unquestioningly on any other matter. 
One of these, which I believe has also appeared in print, I had from 
Sir Rider Haggard; another from a friend, in which the certainty of 
disaster to a valued horse arrived at the threshold of his own con- 
sciousness several hours after the horse had died, having cast itself in 
its stall. All such phenomena should be brought under the most rigid 
evidential scrutiny, particularly that one which links them closest 
with the Dawn-man: the difficulty in recognizing death as a reality. 
The widespread existence of death-origin legends is of itself evi- 
dence that man came into full consciousness of himself prepossessed 
of the belief that death is a kind of natural accident, needing to be 
accounted for, and with reluctance accepted as inevitable for every- 
body. In almost every tribe where death legends occur it is also 
possible to find legends which indicate belief in the equal naturalness 
of escape from death, by favored individuals. In the majority of 
such cases, death is made contingent upon the violation of some 
sort of condition completely integrated with the human environment. 
Among American Indians, with whose myths the writer is widely 
conversant, there are many death origin tales which are sufficiently 
ancient to indicate that they arose out of a still earlier notion that 
death happened only to the body, that the inner man, the real man, 
the one who continues his adventures while the body is asleep, had 
simply gone away and neglected to come back. There are still in 
existence rites indicating that there was an almost universal belief 
among Dawn-men that life could be coaxed back to the empty ten- 
ement, that it was of itself indestructible. To this day the American 
Indian placates the ever-living life of the quarry he is about to kill 



114 MARY AUSTIN 

for food, as formerly he danced the scalp dance to placate by adopt- 
ing into his own tribe the ghosts of the enemies he had slain. 

It would be interesting to have all this material set in order with a 
view to realizing how far the idea of death, as involving discon- 
tinuence, is instinctive to man, or to what extent it is a rationaliza- 
tion of later observations. Such a labour would include a satisfactory 
resolution of two elements that in our thinking about death, at pres- 
ent, appear irreconcilable: the general fear of death, and the occa- 
sional high hearted scorn of it. So far as my own study among 
primitives has carried me, it goes to show that the fear of death dim- 
inishes as we work back to the Dawn-man; and willingness to lay 
down life for an idea, for an emotion, for pure willfulness, increases. 
Too many accounts of savages deliberately dying, apparently by willing 
rather than by doing violence to the body, have been brought to us 
from widely unrelated tribes, not to oblige us to accept them serious- 
ly. It is well known among those acquainted with the less sophis- 
ticated peoples, that the power of predicting their own deaths is a 
matter of equally wide diffusion, and that both the power of dying 
and predicting death are found among peoples who have no well de- 
fined notion of survival and not much interest in it. 

Almost as far back, and surely to be collated with this easy, un- 
afraid individual handling of death, rises the concept of the voluntary 
laying down of life as meritorious. This is probably older than the 
contrary idea of the evil of suicide. So also is the idea of the ex- 
ceptional individual who can both lay down his life and take it up 
again. I have never been quite satisfied with the explanation of these 
ideas as a development of incidental observations of trance, coma 
and similar conditions. The idea that to lay down life for others 
is of the highest order of merit is the stuff out of which Christ myths 
are made. That unforgetable sergeant in the late war who called out 
to his men, "Come on you do you want to live forever?" was not 
rationalizing. He was acting upon and appealing to one of the 
deepest seated motive impulses in human nature, universally esteemed. 
It is here, I think, in the study of our own universal approval of the 
voluntary movement toward discarnation, and our own universal 
disapproval of any form of conscious shrinking from it, that the sub- 
jective study of death can be profitably begun. Does not the dis- 
position of man, given sufficiently exigent conditions, to choose death 
rather than life, suggest that back, far back of the rationalizing 
power, behind the furthest reach of conscious thinking, Spirit, which 



A SUBJECTIVE STUDY OF DEATH 115 

found its way into life without either self-consciousness or intellect, 
knows how to find its way safely out. The question here of how 
much of its equipment of intellect and self consciousness the individual 
Spirit may leave behind in such a transition is unimportant. Sup- 
posing there is an indestructible spirit in man, would not that inde- 
structibility know itself? And would it then really fear death any 
more than it fears sleep, of which it knows nothing when it comes 
into this life? Would not the fear of death, in so far as it is 
not the artificial by-product of myth making about a future life, 
prove to be the fear merely of loosing this dear baggage of personality, 
feeling, memory, and use? These are aspects of the death crisis that 
I should like to see adequately dealt with by inquiring science. 

Along with this new study of man's failure to realize death as the 
inevitable close to existence, should go a fresh inspection of his idea 
of resurrection. Folkloreists have generally conceded the derivation 
of the resurrection myth from nature rites, intended to aid the recur- 
rent springing of the crop from the buried seed. But the existence 
of resurrection myths, myths, at least, of man resuming his life after 
having parted with it, among peoples who are still in the hunting 
stage, and without any ritualized spring ceremony, seems to indicate 
that the assimilation of the ideas of seasonal recurrence and of life 
resumption came later than the original idea of bodily life as a thing 
assumed by the spirit for its convenience. "O Younger Brother," 
said Cushing's friend of the water turtle, "It can not die, it can 
but change its house." What I should like to know is, how far this 
notion of bodily life as assumed can be trusted as an original in- 
knowing or intuitive concept of man about himself. 

Three other items of the manner in which the dawn-mind has 
dealt with death could profitably be brought under such a scrutiny 
as I have in mind ; one of which has scarcely been noted in this con- 
nection, and otherwise marked with an emphasis which in the light 
of modern psychology, appears misapplied. 

The first of these is the disposition toward making a good end, as 
illustrated by death rites performed either by the individual in ex- 
tremis, or on his behalf. Historically such rites long antedate the 
codified faiths which have become attached to them, as in the Catholic 
right of Extreme Unction, which is relegated by scholars to Mid- 
Asian, pre-Christian antiquity. Everywhere among primitives we 
find the moment of death encrusted with rites which can be resolved 
into the supposition that the passage of the psyche from life to death 



116 MARY AUSTIN 

is an occasion of great peril, and that the frame of mind in which this 
passage is attempted, bears importantly upon the chances of survival. 

All religious rituals in general may be said to objectify the search 
for effective states of mind. They might fairly be described as self pre- 
servative gestures of the psyche. How then does the psyche come by 
this notion that it can be assisted in death by induced states? Why, 
if annihilation is natural and foregone, should the self preserving in- 
stinct work upon it at all ? A study of the subjective element in rites 
designed to assist the disengaging spirit would be indispensable to 
such an inquiry as I have postulated. 

Two other notions bearing upon independent spirit existence, com- 
ing a little later and widely distributed among human kind, are the 
ideas of ordeal or judgment undergone by the recently dead, and the 
idea of survival as an achievement. 

Both of these may have developed naturally out of that earlier idea 
which is embodied in the death-song and other expressions of a belief 
in the power of the state of mind in which death is encountered, to 
affect the welfare of the soul to which death is about to happen. If 
they have so developed, then surely, the availing death rite has a much 
greater validity than we have been disposed to give to it. 

The whole history of the Christian faith can be summed up as the 
fluctuations of belief about the nature of the saving rite and an 
achieved survival. How can we then lightly discard an idea so pro- 
foundly conceived and so universally entertained as that of the saving 
death rite, as revealing nothing whatever of the nature of the episode 
around which the rite arranges itself? If we look confidently, as mod- 
ern psychology does look, for intimations of life-possibility in the sub- 
consciousness of the adolescent, if we are willing to trust the issues of 
marriage and the family on what we find indicated in folk ways and 
lore, why not make at least the same gesture toward a possible con- 
firmation of survival in the folk attitude toward death? 

This raises at once the question of the evidential nature of the 
widespread belief in survival. That it is indicated as universal does 
not prove that the wish does not give rise to the belief. But there 
are two or three items to be taken into account before we conclude 
that wish fulfillment is the only element that enters into man's idea of 
a Hereafter. The first of these is that man's early imaginings of the 
life beyond this life, do not, for the most part, represent anything 
that the people who produced them, really wished for. Nothing, 
for instance, could have been more unacceptable to the Greek tern- 



A SUBJECTIVE STUDY OF DEATH 117 

perament than the vague, drab Hades of its mythology, nothing more 
boring to the sensuous Mediterranean than the Heaven he hymns. 
And has not the modern Christian world definitely rebelled against 
both its Heaven and its Hell, finding them equally undesirable, 
without disturbing the general Christian confidence in survival? 

It is easy to show that the social conditions that produced the most 
explicit Heaven and Hell, conceived of as definite places, embodying 
a circumscribed existence, are furthest from the instinctive states that 
are supposed by those who adhere to the wish-fulfillment explanation, 
to have given rise to them. Much more likely to have arisen out of 
the deep seated wish is the idea of direct communication with the 
beloved dead. But before we can lightly dismiss the wish as evidence, 
we have to demonstrate than man can wish for anything not in his 
destiny. Is not the power of wishing in itself an intimation of in- 
evitable fulfillment, a germ of inescapable accomplishment? 

There is another group of associated phenomena which has never 
been interrogated for the light it can throw on the catastrophe if 
we are so to regard it? of discarnation. In this group there are 
three items of fairly consistent occurrence throughout the history of 
human experience. The first of these is the nature of the wound to the 
psyche of the bereaved. The second is the well authenticated, though 
modernly infrequent, warning or notice of death psychically received 
by friends or relatives at a distance; and the third is the illusion or 
perhaps it is a fact of psychic readjustment between the departed 
and the bereaved, than which there is no better attested phenomenon. 

The wound of bereavement shows itself in the period of the dawn- 
mind. That the lower animals have been known to grieve them- 
selves to death in the loss of the mate or master, has already been 
noted. I do not find this sort of thing sufficiently accounted for as 
shock, particularly as it seems to take place when no lesion can be 
proven, and does not take place except when there is a liason of in- 
timacy between the living and the recently dead. Properly inter- 
rogated, this not unusual sequential occurrence should yield some 
information as to the nature of the psyche, which if not directly 
bearing on the problem of survival, would serve to explain the more 
frequent and less understood experiences of readjustment. 

Anyone, by a little inquiry among his friends, may hear some ac- 
count of this, which is described as a flooding interpenetration of the 
living personality by the personality of the dead, taking place often 
within a day or two after death, though usually deferred until the 



118 MARY AUSTIN 

first shock of grief is past. There is a reawakened sense of apprecia- 
tion, a renewal of intimacy, often accompanied by sudden illumina- 
tion of traits and incidents never before understood. One hears this 
experience frequently summed up in the phrase "my friend was never 
so near me". Sometimes this sense of nearness amounts to a con- 
viction of presence that, without producing any of the phenomena of 
automatism which have attracted so much attention of late, leads to 
belief in communication. Many people are incited to resort to me- 
diums in the first place by this haunting, teasing intimation of in- 
completed communication. 

So far we have glibly dismissed these universal phenomena attend- 
ing the wresting away of a living psyche from our midst, as incidents 
of the mechanical readjustment of the life habit. And yet much of 
what we generally believe about the relation of death to life, is drawn 
from the experience of such loss by death. Would not a re-examina- 
tion of such experience, dealing with death as a reality, and dis- 
tinguishing between that reality and the emotions it gives rise to, 
yield some such equivalent illumination as has been thrown by modern 
psychology on the process of our dreams, or on the parental relation ? 
Might not the reality of survival be discovered as were the asteroids, 
by intelligent scrutiny of the void in which it has so far occurred. 

In the same spirit there should be a new consideration of the 
legendary lore of survival. No people is without an accumulation 
of incident, passing itself off for fact, relative to reappearances and 
communications of the dead to the living. What is singular and im- 
portant is the general alikeness of such incidents for all tribes and 
races. Supposing, as many psychologists do, that the experiences be- 
hind all the ghosts stories in the world, take place within the sub- 
jective consciousness of the person to whom they appear to happen, 
what is the nature of this subjectivity, which is able to produce the 
same type of objective presentation of itself among the least and the 
most intellectual tribes? Take, for example, the world wide notion 
that something of the personality of the victim "haunts" the scene of 
a violent death? Notice that in all these tales it is not the murderer 
but the murdered who does the haunting. Any professional maker 
of tales knows that there can be no tale without some interior motion 
of the psyche to set it going and give it form. What is the psychic 
start behind the multifarious tales of hauntings? Is it in any way 
related to that other idea of death as an occasion of peril, requiring 
special rites for its safe negotiations? Or, consider the innumerable 



A SUBJECTIVE STUDY OF DEATH 119 

stories of the protection afforded to our own personal crisis, by some 
one of the dear dead. 

I recall one such experience arising not on my own behalf, but in 
the interest of another person, occurring in the middle of a crowded 
afternoon on Fifth Avenue, in which the mother of a boy I had never 
seen before or after, seemed to appear not only to me but to another 
passing stranger with an absolutely arresting reality. In this case 
there was not even a emotional reflex out of which the intimation of 
presence might arise. 

Can we in any way derive the practice of ancestor worship from 
the sort of experiences that give rise to such presentments? Primitive 
man, as his literature shows, is notably lacking in invention. His good 
tales as well as his devil tales also come from the same place that his 
dreams come. The concept of helpful ancestral spirits is not of the 
class of invented myths, such as that the thunder is caused by a great 
bird flapping its wings or a great man swinging a hammer. It be- 
longs in the group of origin tales arising out of subjective experience, 
out of unsatisfied egoism or sex suppressions or other unidentified 
movements of the subconscious. All such experiences are more and 
more shown to be the inverted shadows of subjective realities which, 
by the aid of psychoanalysis, can be definitely placed. Curiously, no 
one has yet undertaken to place this group of shadows around the 
reality of death. If it could have the undivided attention of the psy- 
chologists to the degree that the psychic reactions of the love-life have 
had it, would not our yield of understanding be proportionately re- 
warding? For death is quite as much of a fact as sex, quite as likely 
to disguise its actuality in myths and hallucinations, myths of haunt- 
ings, of resurrections, subjective presentments of seeing and hearing. 

All this seems to me much more important than the sort of thing 
that is now claiming the attention of investigators. Whether or not 
our discarnate friends can hark backward to us over the dividing 
line is relatively unimportant compared with the discovery of the 
quality and conditions of the adventure by which survival is ac- 
complished. One thing we know and one only: that if there is 
another existence beyond the gate of death, we go through from 
Here to There. Is it not from Here, then, that the adventure can be 
soundly predicated? 
Casa Querida, 
Camino Montesol, 
Santa Ft, New Mexico. 



CHAPTER VI 
A PEAK IN DARIEN 



BY MARGARET DELANO 



It has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps 
but the saying may not hold good of a woman. At any rate, I can- 
not be "known", intellectually or philosophically, when I speak upon 
psychical research from a platform which has been honored by the 
presence of my betters, speaking upon the same subject. Indeed, re- 
flecting upon what I want to say, I wondered why I had been in- 
vited to say it ! Then I found an explanation in the story of Moliere 
and his washerwoman. Moliere, anxious to know how the average 
mind regarded his theme, was in the habit of reading his plays aloud 
to this simple person, and asking her what she thought of them . . . 

In relation to the subject to be discussed, the Department of Psy- 
chology of Clark University has, after listening to experts, invited 
the washerwoman, and the reason is obvious: her comment upon 
the hypothesis of man's survival of bodily death, will be that of the 
average mind. 

If to such minds is put the question: "Is there any evidence that 
when a man dies he shall live again?" there will be many different 
answers. One may be, "Immortality? Heaven? Oh, let's talk of 
something pleasant!" Or: "Evidence? Bosh! There isn't any." 
Or: "The teaching of my church is 'evidence' enough for me!" (Of 
course, that sort of belief is easy, just in proportion to the ability of 
the person taught to believe without mental processes.) There is also 
the mind that says, grimly, "There can't be 'evidence' of what is in- 
herently impossible." Solomon declares that such persons, whom he 
rather unfairly calls ungodly, say within themselves : 

"Neither was any man known to return from the grave. 
Because by mere chance were we born, 
And hereafter we shall be as though we had never been. 
For the breath of our nostrils is smoke, 
And our reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our heart, 
Which, being extinguished, the body shall be turned to ashes, 



122 MARGARET DELAND 

And the spirit shall be dispersed into thin air, 

And our life shall pass away as the traces of a cloud." 

To a mind of this nature, survival is an unthinkable hypothesis be- 
cause it is certain that there cannot be personality without an or- 
ganism. Until recently I, too, was 'certain.' As long ago as my 
early thirties, I had realized that, though my church asserted its be- 
lief in the "resurrection of the dead," covering the statement on Eafcter 
Sunday with flowers and setting it in crashes of joyous music, the 
belief itself was not, to most Christians, a very real thing. If it 
were, I reasoned, grief would not be the hideous thing it is, for Love 
is unselfish enough to be glad of any joy that comes to the beloved. 
But nobody was glad, except yes; except a certain Swedenborgian 
mother I knew, who, when her only son lay dead in the house, wiped 
her eyes and smiled, and said, "Course, I'm lonely. . But I'm so 
happy, because I keep thinking what a good time George is having!" 
But I never knew anyone else who was happy under such circum- 
stances, and George's mother's faith seemed to me beautiful and 
foolish. For how, I asked myself, could she know that George was 
"having a good time?" or that he was, at all! So far as proof went, 
her premise that he was alive would not, as George himself would 
probably have expressed it, "hold water". Certainly, if "George" 
was the energetic body the big, dear, sturdy body then the premise 
was wrong, for the body was dead. In that shaded upper room, it 
was lying still. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. No George. Yet she 
was "so happy"! I knew that I would not have been happy, with- 
out proof that George could be George without his body. Not 
having that proof, I believed that "our life passes away as the traces 
of a cloud." I am afraid I was not agnostic about it; I was rather 
aggresively sure that survival was an unthinkable hypothesis. It 
never occurred to me to investigate my own premise: 'there cannot 
be personality without an organism.' Such investigation meant, I 
thought, spiritualism and the very word irritated me. It stood, in 
my mind, for trivialities and vulgarities; for mediumistic utterances, 
often offensive to taste, and frequently accompanied by clap-trap as 
old as the rods of the Egyptian priests that turned into serpents, 
and yet as young as those early 90's, when tables tipped and tam- 
bourines floated. To connect such things with the sacred but help- 
less Dead, seemed to me an insult, not only to grief, but to intel- 
ligence. 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 123 

All that was my answer to the question, "Is there any evidence 
that when a man dies he shall live again?" There is, of course, 
another reply, but it isn't often heard. It is, "I don't know whether 
there is evidence for survival, but I wish I did." This is the answer 
of the Mind of Curiosity without which confessedly ignorant, but 
always wondering and searching mind, there never would have been 
any science in the world. This mind doesn't say "bosh" before 
examining evidence. It couldn't live in the strait-jacket of a creed. 
It hasn't much patience with George's mother (who was, plainly, a 
Pragmatist!) or, for that matter, with Solomon's materialist, who 
is sure that hereafter we shall be as though we never had been. This 
Mind of Curiosity says you can't be "sure" of anything, without in- 
vestigation. It is even willing to investigate that despised thing, 
spiritualism, with, as someone once said, "its twaddle about 'planes 
and spheres' " which implies that if the soul survives, it becomes im- 
becile! I remember Professor Sidgwick's "curiosity" about such 
things. He admitted to Frederick Myers that he thought that "when 
Tradition, Intuition, Metaphysic, had failed to solve the riddle of the 
universe, there was still a chance that from actual observable phe- 
nomena ghosts, spirits some valid knowledge might be drawn as to 
a World Unseen". "From that night onward," Myers says, calmly, 
"I resolved to pursue this quest. . ." 

One must read his book, "Human Personality And Its Survival 
of Bodily Death" which is a sort of corner stone of psychical re- 
search to know the significance of that quest; the ruthless reason- 
ing, which might destroy his own hope, the sacrifice, the shrinking 
from things as distressing to the taste of a poet, a scholar and a 
gentleman, as a hair shirt would be to the flesh! For myself, when 
I read that book, I was filled with admiration for Professor Myers 7 
courage in facing all the "bosh" people, and religious people, and in- 
tellectual people, and diving into what seemed to them a mud puddle 
of illogical emotion. Also, I was myself a little less cock-sure that 
no man was ever known to return from the grave. But I hadn't much 
hope that psychical research would prove anything, one way or the 
other. And as for spiritualism, I realized scientifically and philo- 
sophically uneducated though I was that it was illogical to deduce 
survival from happenings which might be hallucinations (when not 
humbuggery), or, in objective phenomena, merely some unknown 
force, operating upon an entirely hypothetical form of matter, of late 
named teleplasm or ectoplasm. So I said to myself that, as spiritual- 



124 MARGARET DELAND 

istic phenomena must be fraud because they were "impossible," then 
they had better be investigated by these psychical research people, and 
shown up! The psychical research people have done the investiga- 
ting but some of the things "shown up" have been fact, not fraud.* 
As a result, we are not so certain, now-a-days, as to 'impossibilities.' 
We are less ready to use the word about anything except math- 
ematics. 

Professor Richet snubbed the type of mind which says "impossible," 
by his statement: "To deny certain (psychic) phenomena, does not 
display knowledge; it displays ignorance." Which reminds us that 
sparks rubbed from a cat's fur indicated, from the beginning of time, 
a Force; but only yesterday was that force curbed and bitted, and 
named Electricity! So, Richet says, do spiritualistic phenomena in- 
dicate a Force. He adds, carefully, that "its manifestation does not, 
probably, indicate survival". He does not believe in survival. 

But anyhow, the phenomena, subjective in various forms of auto- 
matism, ouija spellings, scrawled reams of automatic script, gutteral 
mutterings of entranced mediums; or objective tipping tables and 
materializing forms, began, in the 80's, to give a few intelligent 
persons pause. After all, they said, perhaps these things mean some- 
thing? This appears to be a universe of cause and effect; Nature 
may be brutal, but she is sincere. Mathematics are unshakable. The 
attraction of gravitation knows no vagaries. (This was before Ein- 
stein!) Even sparks from a cat's fur prophesied the telephone, and 
the jumping lid of a tea-kettle changed civilization! So they set out 
to look for the facts. Apart from any question of survival, apart 
from the frantic credulousness of Grief, from the tender and lovely 
irrationalities of George's mother, such people said that it was 
childish to ignore what might be facts, in these queer happenings. 
Happenings which take place generally in the presence of mediums 
persons of a peculiar physical or mental make-up; abnormal per- 
sons, probably; certainly some of them display very distinct disas- 
sociation of personality. Well! They found many facts these 
'intelligent' people ! Starting with Saul, who saw very 'queer' things 
in the presence of the Witch of Endor, the phenomena have been re- 
peated and repeated. The entirely skeptical Sir William Crookes 
saw them, in the presence of a sixteen-year-old girl (who could hard- 
ly have fooled, in his own laboratory, for three years, the greatest 

*May I acknowledge here my own indebtedness to Mr. J. Arthur Hill's 
illuminating books on Psychical Research. 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 143 

physicist in England ! ) . The unbelieving biologist, Charles Richet, 
observed equally amazing things, on the line of the Witch of Endor's 
performances. Other scientific men had the same experiences. As 
a result, the existence of an unclassified Force (now called psychic) 
is, here and there, admitted. It differs markedly from any known 
physical force. Physical forces are reliable, unselfconscious, without 
intellectual appropriateness, and without recognizable will. But this 
psychic force is vagrant, unreliable, and occasionally it displays not 
only self-consciousness and will, but an appropriateness to occasion 
which looks like choice. Yet if men who have investigated the phe- 
nomena are asked if they signify anything superhuman, they reply 
that nothing can be called superhuman if by any stretching of pos- 
sibility it can be called human. 

Such men William James was one of them prefer, before com- 
mitting themselves to any hypothesis as to survival, to put phenomena 
generally called psychic, through the sieve not of taste or morals 
or faith, but of physics and psychology. When such testing is done, 
what Saul would have taken to be the ghost of Samuel, is occasion- 
ally found to be hallucination or else gauze and pulleys and ama- 
zingly clever sleight of hand. And most of the automatic messages 
can be traced to the subconscious mind of the writer. And George's 
mother's faith is only her own desire. In other words, happenings, 
accepted by credulity or sorrow as "superhuman," are shown to be 
entirely (and, when fraudulent, most regrettably!) human. But is 
there, ever, anything that can't be labeled human and normal ; any- 
thing that won't go through the scientific sieve? Anything indicating 
that when a man dies, he shall live again? 

William James said to me once of the notorious Eusapia's phe- 
nomena, "Her materializations and general monkey shines are most- 
ly humbug. But allowing for all the cheating, and all the hideous 
vulgarity, there remains a residuum which we can't explain." This 
unexplained residuum, which apparently James had detected, was 
an indication of Mind, acting independently of Matter; in other 
words, an indication of the continuance of identity after death. 

"But," comes the protest, "psychic phenomena which suggest such 
a thing are (when not humbug) just chance. So why consider 
them?" It is the haunting and melancholy voice of Solomon's 
materialistic which asks this question: 
"By mere chance were we born, 
And hereafter we shall be as though we had never been." 



126 MARGARET DELAND 

Chancel Well, for myself, I see the orderliness of the stars, the 
perfection of a flea's leg, the reliability of physical laws in cause and 
effect and I don't see how the Universe can be run by chance; if 
it were, it would be a Chaos, not a Cosmos. Yet far be it from me 
to discuss chance ! To speak of chance, is to touch the fringe of that 
Garment of God, Free Will, which is caught about the universe by 
the girdle of determinism, with its clasp of the star swarms of space ! 
This is only the story of the elementary processes of an escape from 
materialism, so you will not expect me to bring determinism into the 
question; nor will I dare, in my ignorance, to struggle with certain 
other lions in the way Time and Space, Matter and Energy, and 
the Fourth Dimension though indeed they all belong in any tho- 
rough consideration of psychic phenomena. Instead, I will just say 
that, to me, an orderly universe suggests design; and design implies 
intelligence. It has many names, this Intelligence: the Absolute, the 
First Cause, the Cosmic Consciousness (which last means, I suppose, 
an eternal awareness of everything, past, present and to come). 
There is another name for it, an august name, belittled by theo- 
logical man-handling: the name God. (I don't suppose it really 
matters much to God, what we call Him!) Anyhow, all the names 
mean, to me, a Conscious Universe, which, because it shows purpose, 
implies intelligence. 

But such definitions are beyond the question whether human in- 
telligence can survive bodily death. What we want to know, is 
whether there is, in psychic phenomena, any indication that it does. 
Any evidence that the individual human mind can exist without 
a body? Certainly, intelligence is occasionally discernible in psychic 
phenomena. But whose intelligence? Is it that of the medium in 
whose presence things happen? Is it a secondary personality of 
hers? Or is it the intelligence of John Smith, who is sitting with 
her, and does she, somehow, read in his unconscious mind things 
his conscious mind has forgotten? Or, is it the intelligence of some 
other living, perhaps distant, person, which, without anybody's voli- 
tion, reaches the medium, and is recorded by her? Or is it that 
Universal Intelligence, called the Cosmic Consciousness, to which the 
medium has (again, somehow!) access? Or this is the last thing 
we ought to consider is it the intelligence of some person who has 
died, which (somehow) stimulates the brain of the medium, and 
makes her speak or write what it wishes to express? 

If we can say "yes" to any of the first four questions, there is no 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 127 

need to ask the fifth. It is answered before it is asked: psychic 
phenomena do not show the intelligence of the dead. 

Agreeing, then, never to assume an unknown cause if there is a 
known one, and that nothing shall be called supernormal which can 
possibly be called normal, suppose we examine a few concrete in- 
stances of subjective phenomena, and see to whom this intelligent 
consciousness should be credited. I won't even refer to physical 
phenomena; that some of them are genuine, seems very probable. 
But they may when not humbug so easily be pure physics, with 
nothing transcendental about them. Besides, the subject is too big 
for the limits of this paper. I will just put a few stories of mental 
phenomena through the sieve of normalness. If there is anything 
left in the sieve, anything that indicates "Mind acting independently 
of Matter" which certainly wouldn't be normal! then we shall 
have William James* "residuum." Of course, before we even look 
for the residuum, an astonishing number of things will, if enough 
emotion is squeezed out of them so that they can be fitted to meta- 
physical labels, run through the sieve. Secondary personalities will 
go they are so often pathological. And Samuel's ghost will dis- 
appear, too, because phantoms are frequently hallucinations again 
pathological, and, by that token, normal, (which means 'usual'). 

The very first story I drop into the sieve will, if I compress it 
by calling it "coincidence," very quickly pass through the testing 
meshes, and fall on to the heap of the normal. It is the record of 
a ouija spelling; it came in that dark, anxious Paris of 1918, on the 
night of February 5th, at 9:50 (please notice the hour). The little 
pointer (Sir William Barrett said once, "The ouija, once a toy for 
children, is now an instrument of scientific research!") the little, 
foolish, flatiron-shaped piece of wood, spelled out, first, the initials 
of a man who had died in America nine months before. Then: 

5. O. S. messages pour in here. When I can, I get In. Oui must 

not crowd 

This meant nothing to the two ladies at the board (who, by the way, 
knew how to spell "we!") Two evenings later, on the seventh of 
February, came (again on the board) the words: 

Undertaking big work 

An easy generalization in war time, so the ouija operators were 
not impressed. But the following day, February 8th, at noon, 
one of these ladies, stopping on the muddy pavement in the rain, at 



128 MARGARET DELAND 

a little kiosk near the Madeleine to buy a newspaper, read, with a 
sudden tightening of the throat, on the small, smudgy sheet of the 
Daily Mail, these words: "On the night of February 5th, at 9:30, 
the United States transport Tuscania, loaded with American soldiers, 
was sunk. S. O. S. messages were sent out in all directions." Of 
course the two women tried their ouija board that night, and the 
spelling not at all evidential because they knew the facts was 
this: 

You know now. I have been waiting for you to know. Making 
boys at home my work. Remember told you big work 

Call this S. O. S. message "coincidence," and it runs like water 
through the sieve, leaving no residuum which could be called evi- 
dence that a certain American who, before his death, had watched 
the war with intense anxiety, was still watching it, and, aware of this 
terrible catastrophe, communicated it, twenty minutes after it hap- 
pened, to two other anxious Americans in Paris. "Coincidence" is 
easier to accept than the idea that a mind cognizant of what had 
happened, reached, without aid of a physical organism, the mind of 
one of the persons at the board, and caused her own hand to move 
the pointer and spell out what he wanted said, words, you observe, 
coincidental with a fact. (Of course, it is always the hand of the 
operator which moves the pointer. But if there was proof that an 
external mind, unassisted by any bodily senses, used the operator's 
brain to produce those motor effects, we would have the "residuum.") 
Here is another "coincidence" story. A lady, a widow of many 
years, whom we will call "Gertrude", goes to visit some friends in 
Bar Harbor. In her absence two of her friends in her own town 
receive a spelling on a ouija board, which purports to be a message 
from her long deceased husband. In it he says that he can't follow 
Gertrude very well, because she is in "new surroundings" (he had 
never been in that part of Mount Desert) ; "but she is having," he 
adds, "new experiences". As soon as Gertrude returned, her friends 
asked her if she had had any new psychical experiences. "None 
whatever!" she said, laughing. Later, however, she herself asked a 
question: "Do you suppose that spelling could have meant that I 
was doing something unusual? For I certainly was! The very 
same day that ouija message came to you, I went out deep sea fish- 
ing a thing I had never done in my life; and I kept telling my 
host, over and over, 'This is a new experience! This is an abso- 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 129 

lute new experience!' I don't know how many times I said, 'Well, 
I have had a new experience!' " 

If we can make this story fit into the word "coincidence", we 
have no residuum. We needn't even consider the possibility that an 
amused husband, using somebody else's brain as if it were a type- 
writer, tried to let his wife know, by spelling out her own words 
about deep sea fishing, that, although it was difficult to follow her in 
"new surroundings", he was aware of what was going on in her 
life. Some of us might think this, but psychologists who would 
think so are as scarce as hens' teeth ! 

These two trivial stories belong in the class with the letter which 
arrives on the morning mail, from a friend of whom one happened 
to think last night, though one hasn't heard or thought of him for 
years. The arrival of such a letter is a commonplace to us all, 
and, as no law governs it, we squeeze it, and the S. O. S. message, 
and the "new experience" of catching a cod off Bar Harbor, into 
tfye label "Coincidence"; and they all run through the sieve, and 
land in the entirely normal. There are innumerable happenings of 
this kind, all apparently lawless, which we can, rationally, call "coin- 
cidence". Certainly we can't prove that they are not coincidence. 
Neither can we prove they are "lawless." So we may, if we are so 
inclined, call them, mystically, "straws", which show that the wind 
of Consciousness bloweth where it listeth, and we only hear the 
sound thereof, and dare not say whence it cometh or whither it 
goeth. Yet how trifling the "straws" are! To some people, their 
triviality is, in itself, a denial of survival, for, if identity persists after 
death, would our dead come back only to talk to us of deep sea 
fishing or even the terrible, but quite impersonal, affair of a sinking 
ship? Would they not, rather, tell us of their lives now, and of 
Him who inhabiteth Eternity? Personally, I think that if their 
speech was to prove their own survival of bodily death, they would 
not do either of these things. Mere descriptions of God, which, in 
the nature of things, can't be verified, cannot be proof ; nor could we 
verify, or even understand, descriptions of how they live now. Could 
dragon-flies, zigzagging through September skies, make caddis worms 
understand how they live? 

Triviality even jokes in so-called communications from the 
dead, cannot be denied ; indeed, the occasional indication of a continu- 
ing sense of humor, is a great relief ; and apparently affectionate impa- 
tience continues, too! "Oh," the exasperated communicator cries 



130 MARGARET DELAND 

sometimes, when we are slow in understanding, "how can you be so 
stupid?" I find that very reassuring they have not become too 
bright and good for human nature's daily food. And besides, no- 
body wants a heaven on stilts. The truth is, the importance of a com- 
munication lies, primarily, not in its content, but in the fact that it is 
a communication! If we could be sure that the words "hickery- 
dickery-dock, the mouse ran up the clock", were spoken by a dead 
person, the secret of Eternity would be solved. Triviality does not 
decide importance. Myers says very much the same thing when he 
reminds us that the generation of very disagreeable gases in a labora- 
tory, and the incredible minuteness of spectroscopic analysis, gave us 
our conception of cosmic unity, and told us "by the heraldry of 
kindred flame" the composition of the fixed stars! Which is all 
a way of saying that attempts to give precision and actuality to these 
vagrant and, apparently, lawless phenomena, which suggest Mind 
acting independently of matter, are bound to be hampered by things 
minute, or unimportant, or even ludicrous; which encourages us 
to go on looking through trivialities for William James* residuum ! 

But all subjective phenomena can't be disposed of by saying "coin- 
cidence". For instance, the occasional unaccountable behavior of 
the subliminal mind, dowsing, crystal gazing, telepathy, clairvoy- 
ance; and that terrible and frightening thing, prevision. And our 
instincts, too, which someone said reach "back to the constitutional 
properties of protoplasm". If so, they have a long pedigree! But 
I like better to call instincts and intuitions the psychic crumbs that 
fall to us humans from the table of our brothers, the animals, and 
our sisters, the birds. 

One covers the various kinds of psychic phenomena by Richet's 
blanket word, Cryptesthesia ; meaning that the unconscious human 
mind possesses faculties which sometimes make it aware of occur- 
rences past, present or future which bodily senses do not reveal. 
In fact, cryptesthesia implies that some human minds are omniscient ! 
a more difficult supposition to me, I confess, than that they are 
immortal. But of course, ease of belief is not a test of Truth. 

I am going to use the various terms included in the blanket word, 
as if they were explanatory. They are not. Most of them are only 
names for facts as "electricity" is the name of a fact; it does not 
tell us what electricity is. I will just ask you to keep in mind that 
the "residuum" which we look for in the sieve is intelligence, func- 



A PEAK IN DARIBN 131 

tioning without an organism. In other words, indications of a dis- 
carnate personality. 

The next story to be tested for this indication, shows an "intelli- 
gence", apparently trying to prove personality. I won't split hairs 
as to the difference between individuality and personality. Philoso- 
phers must do that, but common folks like the rest of us ordinarily 
use the word "personality" as meaning identity, character, or, more 
explicitly, Consciousness, expressing memory and will. Grant as 
a working hypothesis that a person who has died, wished to make 
his surviving personality known. How could he do it? If, through 
a medium, he says, "I am alive! I am still myself;" we retort, 
"No, you are not. You are the medium's secondary personality." 
If, to show his intelligence, he tells us something we don't know 
say that his wife is having a "new experience" in catching codfish 
we promptly say, "Coincidence!" If, undiscouraged, he describes 
Heaven in very earthly phraseology we say "Imagination I" 
No; such things don't prove surviving personality, because they're 
not identifying. What would be identifying? Well, memory 
would help. But if the alleged communicator offered, as proof, 
some "remembered" event in his life, wouldn't we instantly object: 
"The medium has heard of it"? Obviously, then, to establish 
identity, the "memory" must be something known only to the com- 
municator and the sitter. 

It is an instance of this sort of "remembering", which we will put 
into the sieve. Two persons, Mrs. M. and Miss S. N., sat at a 
ouija board. The pointer indicated swiftly a lot of letters; as they 
were recorded they looked like this: 

tellsherfatherhastoldmeaboutth 

atlawsuitstewartstownproveitandl 

etmeknow 

Mrs. M. tried, confusedly, to space the letters into words, but as 
the spelling was without capitals and punctuation, she read "stewart 
stown", and decided that "stewart" was a proper name, and "stown" 
was a misspelling for "down". But Miss N., hearing Mrs. M. 
stumbling over the letters, said, "Can that be Stewarts* own ?" Mrs. 
M. said, "I suppose it could be, but 'stewartstown 1 has no mean- 
ing." 

Miss N. said, with an astonished look, "Why, my father began 
his medical practice in a place called Stewartstown 1" 



132 MARGARET DELAND 

Mrs. M. then read the whole message to her: "Tell S. her 
father has told me about that lawsuit Stewart stown. Prove it and 
let me know." "Did your father have any lawsuit in Stewarts- 
town ?" Mrs. M. asked 

"I'm sure I don't know," Miss S. N. said; "he began to practice 
there before I was born, so naturally I don't remember much about 
it!" 

"Did you ever hear of any lawsuit in which your father was in- 
terested?" 

"Never !" said S. However, to settle it, she wrote to her mother, 
asking whether Doctor N. had ever been sued in Stewartstown. 
Mrs. N. replied that some forty-two years ago, before she and the 
doctor were married, there had been a lawsuit; a crazy boy, in 
the clutches of a shyster lawyer, had sued the young physician; the 
case came to trial after her marriage to the doctor, and was decided 
in his favor. Here, at first glance, is an effort on the part of the 
deceased Dr. N. to prove his continued existence and personality, 
by telling his daughter S. that he remembered something that 
she didn't know (and Mrs. M. didn't know, either) ; something 
which could be verified later by persons not present at the time the 
effort was made. The "memory" of a law suit, entirely unknown to 
S. N., was, when corroborated later by her mother, highly identify- 
ing. But we must immediately ask, whose memory was identified? 
The reply is prompt! Miss S. N.'s. For, though she was positive 
that she knew nothing about it, it is hardly conceivable that the doc- 
tor had never, in S. N.'s hearing, when she was a child, referred 
to this important event of his own youth. But if so, the reference 
had been forgotten in the crowding experiences of her forty-odd 
years, and now it was hidden among a million other memories! 
Yet it was there, and it sprang up no one knows under what 
cerebral stimulation to "identify" her father. Why did it emerge 
at this particular moment? What pushed a memory so appropriate 
to the purpose of identification, from her unconscious into her 
conscious mind? The story itself can be called a "buried memory"; 
but the apparent purpose in its resurrection suggests deliberate selec- 
tion, and holds it, for me, in the meshes of the sieve, because appro- 
priateness to a particular purpose indicates will, as well as memory. 
And will and memory, together, constitute Personality. However, 
packing it into the dimensions of the label "Subliminal Mind", it 
goes through the sieve and leaves no residuum. 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 133 

Can the case of Jack Creasy and his Mary be as easily disposed 
of? 'Tore Jack", the communicator called himself, in some auto- 
matic writing (and bad spelling) done by the hand of a lady, Miss 
A. who certainly knew how to spell! and who had never heard 
of Jack. The questions are asked by persons who were present at 
the sitting. First, written in a faint, illiterate scrawl, came the word 



("Jack who?") Jack Creasy. 

("What do you want?") Help pore Mary. 

("Where did you live") (Writing illegible) 

("Where?") Greenwich. 

("Are you in the flesh?") No flesh all burnt. 

("Were you burnt?") YesPiche kitl . . . in Blackwell road. 

("When?") Long perhaps twenty month. 

("Was it an accident?") Awful. Mister Lennard put us to shift 
the mixter: Bob Heal put the light out for me. The pitch vat cort. 
v ("What works?") Tar. 

("What kind of works?") A hot. 

("What help do you want for Mary?") Don't know nothin 
find her ask after pore Jack Creasy 's Mary. 

("Is she at Greenwich?") Cant tell can't see she was there. 

Investigation proved that two years before Miss A.'s hand auto- 
matically wrote these words, a man named Jack Creasy (whose 
wife, by the way, was not named Mary!) had been burnt by an 
explosion of a pitch vat, and had died from the effects of it. The 
accident took place in the "tar" distilling works of Forbes "Ab- 
bott" and Lennard, at "Greenwich". The works were bounded on 
one side by "Blackwell" Lane. No such person as Bob Heal could 
be found. But here is the important thing: neither Miss A., nor 
any of the people present, had ever, so far as they knew, heard of 
Jack Creasy, or of the Abbott tar works on Blackwell Lane, or 
of the accident. 

Shall we, then, say that Jack's story, in which some sort of "intel- 
ligence" certainly functions without an organism (of its own) 
shall we say Jack is the residuum which indicates survival? There 
is will here frantic will! to "help Mary". And there is memory 
the memory of a terrible accident which killed a man named 
Jack Creasy. Is "pore Jack", then, as a personality, still alive? 
Is he breaking through the wall of Miss A.'s bodily senses, and 
using having no flesh of his own her flesh, to write his plea 



134 MARGARET DELANO 

that somebody should look after Mary? For myself, I say of this 
consciousness with no body (of its own) "It thinks; therefore it is!" 
But people who know far more than I do, don't say anything of the 
kind. They say that two years before this automatic writing, Miss 
A. may have read some newspaper account of Jack's death. She has 
not the slightest recollection of having done so, but that doesn't 
prove she didn't. It is improbable, but it is not impossible. If she 
did read about it, and forgot it, it might now, suddenly, emerge from 
her subliminal, and she herself, (like Miss S. N. with her father's 
lawsuit), supply the personifying, and in Jack's case dramatic de- 
tails, of anxiety about Mary. With this explanation the thing turns 
normal, even while it is running through the sieve! In other words, 
Jack and Mary are Miss A. It is trivial, this story of poor, il- 
literate Jack unethical Jack, perhaps, because his concern was not 
for his lawful wedded wife (unless he got names mixed up!) and 
it is full of bad spelling, and "pitch kitPs". Yet, if the whole thing 
isn't one of Miss A.'s buried memories, then Jack and his anxiety 
about Mary, trivial though they are, may be the floating weed, the 
spicy fragrance, the wind-blown birds of gorgeous plumage, that met 
the Spanish galleons. "Jack" may herald a discovery, beside which 
Columbus' sinks into unimportance! 

Another label for a metaphysical fact, Telepathy, indicates that 
several stories, which, at first sight seem supernormal, are only 
superusual. Telepathy has been defined as an impression of any 
kind from one mind to another, independently of recognized chan- 
nels of sense. "Mind, acting without any known assistance of 
flesh." It has not been accepted by all psychologists but the recent 
experiments in England, undertaken by Professor Gilbert Murray 
and Mr. Balfour (although open to the explanation of auditive 
hyperesthesia,) have established its reality for a good many geople, 
so I think we have a right to use the word "telepathy" to push 
through the meshes of the sieve anything that threatens to be a 
residuum. 

The first experiment called "telepathic" of which I want to 
speak, came in installments; and it, too, was on a ouija board, in 
Paris, in that dark winter of air raids. It may have begun on the 
19th of January; at any rate on that date, among many meaningless 
letters, came the words "test" and "tests". On the 22nd of January 
there were confused references to someone called "Gus" a friend (in 
America) of the alleged communicating intelligence. On the 25th 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 135 

"Gus" was spelled again, over and over. I cannot express to you 
the strange sense of effort in the repetition: Gus Gus Gus. It 
was like a voice shouting in a fog: Gus! Gus! But this time the 
spelling seemed to indicate some sort of "will", or intention: 

Gus . . . Putting over test , . . 
On Gus soon do prove 

On January 28th (I hate to bother you with dates, but they are 
necessary in this story!) on the 28th of January there was more 
clarity. First came the initials of the communicator : L. F. D. Then : 
Gave Gus certain words. He will let you know. It will come to you. 
The fourteen words did not mean anything to the two people at 
the board. In those terrible days of the Great Offensive, they had 
other things to think of than incoherent ouija spellings. Nor did 
they have the slightest expectation of a letter from "Gus"; he 
wasn't given to writing letters. But on March 6th, five weeks later, 
a letter did come ; it had been dodging submarines, I suppose. It had 
been written on the 29th of January, twenty-four hours after that 
spelling promising that "Gus" would let them know. Well, he did 
let them know! for he sent in this letter "certain words", jotted 
down on the back of an old envelope, just as they had been 
given to him on January 15th on a ouija board in America. They 
were from the communicator who had promised that "words would 
come". The words were, in themselves, intelligible, but evidentially 
unimportant unless they indicated that a mind had functioned with- 
out a body? And they do indicate that, for there was mentality in 
both the spellings, one on one side of the Atlantic, and one on the 
other. There was memory of "Gus" ; and there was will to prove 
personality: "On Gus soon do prove." But if we are going to be 
thorough about this sieve business, we must immediately ask, "Whose 
will?" Certainly neither of the ladies using that three-cornered 
piece of wood, consciously willed anything! Nor could they know 
that the spelling about "Gus", on the 28th of January, in France, 
would be corroborated by "Gus" on the 29th of January, in Ameri- 
ca. But telepathy explains that the remembering and willing con- 
sciousness, was that of "Gus" himself though he didn't know it! 
The theory is that "Gus", receiving in Boston "certain words", 
signed by the name of his dead friend, remembered his friend's wife, 
in Paris. So he sent her (rather belatedly) the little spelling, re- 
corded on the 15th, on the back of the envelope. His thought, inde- 



136 MARGARET DELAND 

pendently of any known channels of his senses, reached, somehow, 
the brain of one of those two women at the ouija board, and made 
her own hand move the pointer, and spell 

Gave Gus certain words he will let you know 

The mechanism of telepathy (granting its actuality) is an open 
question. Nobody knows not even the few psychologists who be- 
lieve in it, let alone a layman! whether it has a physical basis, and 
can be thought of in terms of matter; or whether it is a faculty of 
the mind, independent of matter. But as a means of squeezing emo- 
tion out of an experience so that it may go through the sieve, telepa- 
thy works admirably. It doesn't, of course, explain how the think- 
ing, willing consciousness of a brain in America, could use another 
brain in Europe to produce motor effects, and make a veridical 
statement. But the "how" is less important to me than the fact; 
because if "Gus's" mind produced those effects, without the as- 
sistance of his body, it would seem that a body is not essential to the 
operation of a mind. Or put it this way: the intelligent movement of 
that ouija board in Paris, being due to the mind of a man in Boston, 
suggests that as telepathy before death is possible between living per- 
sons, telepathy after death, between living and dead persons is at 
least thinkable, because in either case, mind would have to op- 
erate without bodily senses. But in testing the story of "Gus" for 
a residuum, most of us just say, "Telepathy from 'Gus'," and leave 
it at that. That the will displayed in these two ouija messages was 
that of a discarnate mind a mind on the other side of the grave, 
not on the other side of the Atlantic is pure speculation. (And so 
is telepathy.) 

To telepathy we must credit to get them through the sieve, 
otherwise they would stick in the meshes and be a residuum! the 
dreadfully abstruse cross correspondences reported by the English 
Society for Psychical Research. It is said that the case called "The 
Ear of Dionysius", reported by Balfour, is probably the best proof 
ever recorded that human intelligence can survive death. But those 
English crosses are so difficult to follow, even in print, that I shan't 
quote any of them. I shall only give a small, home-made "cross", 
indicating, it seems to me, an "intelligence", which can't be credited 
to the medium, nor to John Smith's subliminal. Only telepathy 
covers it (if it is covered). The experiment was made by three la- 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 137 

dies, Mrs. H. in Boston, sitting with Mrs. Piper, and, up in Maine, 
myself and a friend using a ouija board. It was arranged (by mail) 
that my friend and I would use our board on a day when Mrs. 
Piper was to produce automatic script for Mrs. H., and that I 
should ask the "intelligence" who might communicate with us, to 
give us some word or idea; then, through Mrs. Piper's control (or, 
if you prefer, call it her secondary personality which names itself 
"Rector") through "Rector", write, by Mrs. Piper's hand, the same 
word or idea. On the day arranged, after the communicator had 
agreed to make this experiment, the piece of wood on three legs up 
in Maine, laboriously spelled out the following: 

I will try to get the word Washington through rector but rector 
says he never heard the word hard on old George 

In spite of the snub to the father of our country, we wrote to Mrs. 
H. in Boston, asking her if the word "Washington" had appeared 
in tjie Piper script. She replied that it had not. But some weeks 
afterwards Mrs. H. and I, looking over the script, came upon four 
words, in an abruptly different hand a big, black, violent scrawl. 
These four words had no apparent relation to the rest of the mes- 
sage, nor had they the slightest meaning to Mrs. H. They were: 

Somebody here called George 

That was all. It is not much of a cross correspondence, I admit. In 
fact, some people might turn it down as nothing but coincidence, 
and not very striking at that! Telepathy, however, claims it for its 
own, by saying that my concentration upon the word "Washington", 
impressed the entranced Mrs. Piper, a hundred miles away, to write 
it. But no; the telepathic theory breaks down here, because Mrs. 
Piper didn't write it! She wrote the word which so often precedes 
Washington; she wrote "George". The communicator had said, in 
Maine, that Mrs. Piper's control, "Rector", had never heard the 
word "Washington", and implied with his impertinent (and high- 
ly characteristic!) "hard on old George!", that this might be wound- 
ing to the vanity of the first President. But perhaps "Rector" had 
heard the very ordinary name, "George"? However, that is a spec- 
ulation. There is a good deal of "speculation", on both sides of this 
question of survival ! All we can say is that this cross correspondence 
indicates a personality, because will and, perhaps, memory are dis- 
played; Will which ingeniously circumvented "Rector's" sad his- 



138 MARGARET DELAND 

torical ignorance by the use of the word "George"; and memory, 
which indicated the historical if elementary! knowledge of the 
communicator. Telepathy says, however, that that will and mem- 
ory, and the circumvention of "George", though they do indicate 
personality, are not the residuum, because the personality indicated 
was embodied ! Was, in fact, my own. It was my mind that, some- 
how, across Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, impressed 
that part of Mrs. Piper's mind which she names Rector, and made 
her hand write "George". As in the case of "Gus", an incarnate 
mind (mine) did, without any detectible assistance of the physical 
senses, cause another incarnate mind to produce physical effects. So 
this story does not prove that, after death, the spirit is not "dis- 
persed into thin air". Call it telepathy, and Washington's first name, 
George, appearing (with appropriateness to the occasion) in two 
widely separate places on the same day, goes through the sieve, and 
falls on the growing heap of the entirely normal, and Solomon's 
materialist may exult in the melancholy triumph of being able to 
say, "I told you so". 

But there are psychic phenomena which can't be called telepathic; 
for instance, the story of Mrs. Agnes Pacquet's brother, Ed Dunn. 
Now Ed was a fireman on a tugboat in Chicago Harbor, and he 
was drowned one October night, towards dawn. Mrs. Pacquet's 
story, (somewhat condensed) follows: 

"On the morning of the accident ... I awoke feeling gloomy 
and depressed. ... I went into the pantry, took down the tea canis- 
ter, and as I turned around my brother Edmund or his exact 
image stood before me .... only a few feet away. The appari- 
tion stood with back toward me, and was in the act of falling for- 
ward .... seemingly impelled by a loop of rope drawing against 
his legs. The vision lasted but a moment, disappearing over a rail- 
ing or bulwark. I dropped the tea, and exclaimed, 'My God! Ed 
is drowned.' At about half past ten a. m. my husband received a 
telegram from Chicago announcing the drowning of my brother. . . . 
He said to me, 'Ed is sick in the hospital in Chicago ; I have just re- 
ceived a telegram.' To which I replied, 'Ed is drowned ! I saw him 
go overboard'. I then gave him a description of what I had seen; 
that my brother had on a heavy blue sailor's shirt ; that he went over 
the rail. I noticed that his pants legs were rolled up enough to see 
the white lining inside." 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 139 

The actual facts were that on that night Edmund Dunn, while 
adjusting a tow line, on the tug "Wolf", was thrown overboard by 
the line and drowned. The crew testified that Ed had lately pur- 
chased a pair of new trousers, and as they were a trifle long he had 
rolled them up, "showing the white lining". 

It is difficult to find a normal label for this story. "Coincidence" is 
too far fetched ; the "Subliminal Mind" can't resurrect what it hasn't 
buried! "Telepathy" would have to be stretched to the breaking 
point before we could believe that Ed, in that swift moment of dying, 
thought of his sister, and of the white lining of his new "pants'. 
Such self-consciousness, under such circumstances, is a too incredible 
suggestion ! We can only label the story telepathic, by accepting the 
theory that the crew of the "Wolf", who saw the accident and the 
details, thought the white lining of the trousers to Ed, who, dying, 
thought the crew's thought to Mrs. Pacquet. This may be normal, 
but it is also swallowing a camel after having strained out a gnat. 
"Hallucination" is another label meaning that Mrs. Pacquet, stand- 
ing in her pantry, suffered for a moment some bodily change or 
lesion, which made her think she saw Ed's ghost. But though an 
hallucination may be normal, in the sense of being pathological, (with 
the accompanying implication that the brain is the self) the word 
doesn't account for the appropriateness of the apparition to the oc- 
casion. Appropriateness! I am impressed by the way in which, 
in all these stories, that word lingers in the sieve; because appropri- 
ateness may mean selection and, who selects? However, appro- 
priateness may, also, be mere coincidence, so let it go. We won't 
assume an unknown cause if we can find a known one; and the 
known one may be clairvoyance. Certainly, clairvoyance on the 
part of Mrs. Pacquet is nearer the normal than the striking time- 
liness of that hallucination. To define it, "Clairvoyance is the 
faculty of perceiving, as though visually with coincidental truth 
some distant scene or event". As Ed's sister stood with the tea can- 
ister in her hand, she saw ((if you can say "saw" when the eyes of 
the flesh had nothing to do with it and when the seeing took place 
some three hours after the event) she saw the twisted tow rope, the 
blue shirt, the backward stumble. This so comppletely rules out 
"spirits", that Solomon's materialist may easily say, "Ed Dunn is as 
though he had never been" ! For whatever clairvoyance may be, it is 
not, necessarily, related to the theory of survival. (And Time 



140 MARGARET DELANO 

doesn't seem to enter into it which makes old-fashioned people 
like myself remember certain words : . . , "there should be Time no 
longer.") The clairvoyant's occasional vagrant vision of this or that 
place or event, is like seeing, in the sudden illumination of a flash 
of lightning, a midnight landscape. Such a glimpse is generally 
meaningless; it may be of a sailor falling overboard; or, what is just 
as likely, an apple cart in Seattle, or a cave man rooting for grubs; 
for everything past, present, future lies in the dark landscape, un- 
seen until the flash comes! Then, a crash of details! of which 
one or two are, perhaps, printed on the memory. If this is so, it 
would be absurd to attribute Ed Dunn or the cave man or the 
apple cart to "spirits". One just says of Agnes Pacquet, "Clair- 
voyance!" without explaining how, without the aid of a physical 
sense, she was aware of a physical (and coincidental) fact. 

I know another story which if one uses sufficient circumlocution, 
may also be labeled "Clairvoyance". It is concerned with a baby's 
rompers. About a year and a half ago a friend, whom I will call 
Molly, and I, were sitting with Mrs. Piper, in Boston, and Molly's 
sister Lucy, who had died, "purported" (as the saying is) to write 
with the entranced Mrs. Piper's hand. She said that the day before 
she had seen her mother, in another town, doing so and so. The 
statement was correct ; but as Molly happened to know exactly what 
her mother had been doing at the time, she, of course, credited the 
information to mind reading on the part of Mrs. Piper. Then an- 
other personality begin to write, but paused to say: 

Lucy has gone again to find mother and see what she is doing. 
I, rather surprised, said, "What! Now?" There was no reply; the 
other communicator just went on writing about his own affairs, 
then some 20 minutes later, paused, to say, abruptly: 

Here's Lucy! 

I said, as nearly as I can remember, "Well, Lucy, did you see your 
mother? What was she doing?" Mrs. Piper's hand wrote: 
Mother just looked at morning news (here followed a drawing 
of newspaper) and laid it on a little table. Picked up what 
looked like a box of buttons (Here the hand drew seven little 
circles o o o o o o o suggesting buttons) and shook them. 
Looked into it, picked up 2 or 3 and sat down in a chair to put 
them in another place. 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 141 

Later this was reported to Lucy's mother, who said that at the time 
this was being written in Boston, she may have been reading a 
paper; she generally did at about that hour, but she couldn't be cer- 
tain. But she was certain that she had taken up a little tray of but- 
tons, perhaps a dozen, shaken it, because (she remembered) some 
ravellings were clinging to the buttons, then picked out two, and sat 
down to sew them on to her little granddaughter's rompers. To me, 
those buttons for a baby's bloomers lie as a residuum in the sieve, 
when golden crowns or harps would have slipped through! No eyes 
of flesh saw that simple domestic scene. Mrs. Piper, in Boston, knew 
nothing of Lucy's mother, or of her occupations; nor did Lucy's 
sister, Molly, have any idea what was going on in Cambridge at 
1 1 :30 that April morning. Yet here is a statement coincidental with 
an event: "she picked up a box of buttons and shook them." Did 
Mrs. Piper, in Boston, entirely unacquainted with Lucy's mother, 
and in a profound trance, somehow push aside the blind-folding flesh, 
and 'see the white-haired mother "shake" the box of buttons, and 
then, with gentle, trembling old hands, "pick up" two buttons? Or 
was it just that Mrs. Piper's unconscious mind dropped into ro- 
mance, and said that Lucy had "gone to see her mother"? Did that 
chance statement of hers cause Molly to imagine, and perhaps vis- 
ualize, her mother, sewing? Did Mrs. Piper read this in her mind, 
and coincidence do all the rest, filling out the drama with a ref- 
erence, which chanced to be veridical, to "buttons" which had to be 
"shaken" to free them from ravellings? Or, if Molly's imagination, 
Mrs. Piper's mind reading, and the chance of a lucky hit, makes too 
great a strain on our credulity, shall we just call it clairvoyance on 
the part of Mrs. Piper? At any rate that word takes the story 
(with some pushing and straining) through the sieve. Yet again, 
it only labels. It doesn't explain. And it leaves us wondering 
about that "coincidental truth" . . . Does the brain, do you sup- 
pose, wall us in from infinitude? And does something, sometimes, 
shift, for an instant, jolting the mechanism of the senses out of their 
track and throwing consciousness on to a new radius of awareness? 
An awareness of that unseen landscape ; awareness of Reality, Time, 
Space God, maybe? Suppose the mind of curiosity must "sup- 
pose", or it would have no wings! suppose 

"... if, that the All-moving were the One 
Realitv 



142 MARGARET DELAND 

Then, by the self-same power in man himself 
Whatever was real in man, might understand 
That same Reality, being one substance with it, 
One substance with the essential soul of all." 

If so, then the clairvoyant may literally "see with larger eyes than 
ours, and view like God the rolling years!" Were the walls of Mrs. 
Pacquet's senses breached, so that she had such "viewing"? Did 
Mrs. Piper, in like fashion, see the box of buttons? Was it by such 
rending of the veil that George's mother knew he was "having a 
good time"! That would mean that to these three souls being of 
one substance with the essential soul of all the awarenesses of the 
Whole were made manifest, so that they, like God, could see the tug 
"Wolf" and Ed, or Lucy's mother or even George. 

Solomon says something to that effect when, commenting on the 
materialist's conviction that life shall pass away as the traces of a 
cloud, he says: "Thus reasoned they, and they were led astray; for 
God created man to be immortal and made him an image of His 
own Eternity" 

Man of one substance. . . Yes, the wings of wondering carry us 
as high as that! But we must come down again to precise terminol- 
ogy, and say that neither the buttons, nor Ed Dunn, constitute a 
residuum which proves survival, because that word "clairvoyance" 
takes them both through the sieve and names them normal. Yet it 
leaves something glimmering on the meshes, it leaves the implication 
that, though Ed is not the residuum, perhaps his sister is? The im- 
plication that the soul only lives in the body, and sometimes, if the 
door happens to be ajar, it steps out and sees that which it hath 
not entered the heart of man to conceive ! 

As another effort to find the residuum, I will tell you the story 
of Robin. Sir William Barrett sent it to me, as it came to him from 
Robin's mother. She said that about three weeks after the boy's 
death (his ship had been torpedoed and he was drowned), she went 
to the house of her brother in London: but I'll give you (slightly 
abbreviated) her report to Sir William. 

"I went," she wrote, "to my brother's house. His cook asked me 
if I was interested in spiritualism. I asked her why; she replied 
that her sister Mary, who had previously lived with my brother as 
parlor maid, had received a message from my boy, whom she knew 
as a youngster. This message was that my boy wished me to know 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 143 

that he had not suffered at all, but had died from shock. I had not 
seen this girl for two and a half years. The message was not 
evidential, for she may have heard of my son's death. So I requested 
that if my boy appeared again to her, he would send me something 
to prove his identity." Later Robin's mother saw Mary . . . "and she 
told me she had again seen my son, and he had given her a message 
which she could make nothing of. He said, 'Tell mother I hope 
Stella (his sister) has been able to get the gray suede shoes. Tell 
mother I hope she will keep the pen in a sheath always by her'." The 
mother adds: "The day before my son left home, his sister was 
hunting round different shops for gray suede shoes, and my son and I 
spent the morning going from shop to shop seeking for a chatelaine 
case for my fountain pen, which he gave me as a parting present. 
Now Mary had not seen either me or my son, or any member of my 
family, since she married, and there was no possible means of her 
knowing or finding out anything whatever about the pen or the 
shoes/' 

None of the normal labels we have used fit this story; even the 
hard-worked theory of telepathy from the living, which explained 
"Gus" and "George" Washington, won't dispose of Robin, unless we 
say that his mother transferred her memory of Stella's slippers to the 
cook's mind who transferred the transferred memory to the parlor 
maid's mind. To believe that, we would have to swallow two 
camels! But will Robin be considered the evidential "residuum" by 
anyone except his mother, and Stella, and the parlor maid? Prob- 
ably not. On this subject, other people's convictions do not convince. 
Do you remember what was said to Dives when he wanted to go 
back and warn his brothers? "Neither will they be persuaded, though 
one rose from the dead." Most of us dodge in any direction to es- 
cape from being "persuaded" that, for instance, Jack Creasy rose 
from the dead to ask help for his poor Mary; or that Robin was so 
anxious to comfort his mother, that he came back to tell the parlor 
maid to tell her (as a proof that he was still living) that he remem- 
bered Stella's shoes! In this instance we dodge by saying, "Why 
didn't Robin speak to his mother, direct, instead of the parlor maid ?" 
Well, why don't we use a piece of string for telephoning? Because 
we have to use a wire! Mary was a wire; Robin's mother (like 
most of us) was just string. However, the story of Robin is not the 
residuum in the sieve, because we have still one label left to attach 
to it the Cosmic Mind. Like the other labels, it is only a name; 



144 MARGARET DELANO 

but not, this time, for a fact; only for an hypothesis the hypo- 
thesis of a continuing awareness a sort of Reservoir of all the 
thoughts that have ever been thought by all the human beings who 
have ever lived since the beginning of time. An unthinkably vast 
Remembering, out of which multitudes of memories which no man 
can number, of all peoples and kindreds and tongues, Mary, it is 
alleged, drew a single memory, appropriate -not to herself, or the 
cook, or one of the millions of remembering and grieving mothers 
in the world but to Robin, and his mother. 

Another story labeled Cosmic Mind, is the famous experiment of 
Sir William Crookes. He was alone with his medium testing for 
that eluding residuum, and finding it constantly slip through the sieve 
on the words "unconscious cerebration/' To eliminate that, he said 
to the communicating intelligence (I quote from his report) he said 
to this Intelligence which was, it alleged, using the hand of the 
medium to operate a planchette: "Can you see the contents of this 
room?" The planchette wrote "Yes." "Can you see to read this 
newspaper?" (A copy of the London Times was on a table behind 
him). The planchette wrote "Yes." Sir William was standing 
between the table and the medium, with his back to the table ; neither 
he nor she could, by any normal possibility, read that paper. He put 
his hand behind him, put one finger down somewhere! anywhere! 
on the paper. "Well," he said, "if you can see that, write the 
word that is now covered by my finger, and I will believe you." The 
planchette hesitated, then slowly wrote one word: "however". The 
scientist turned, lifted his finger, and read "however". Unless we 
say about Crookes, "the boy lied" which, of course, would be silly 
we find nothing but a willed clairvoyance, which would be per- 
sonality in Omniscience, to account for that "however". The 
medium "saw", without physical eyes, through the body of Sir Wil- 
liam; "saw", under his pressing finger, the coincidental fact the 
hidden word. That indication of knowledge and will, is one step 
ahead of Mrs. Pacquet and Mary, for their experiences had a rela- 
tion to human minds, and the word "however" had no human con- 
nection. Hence it does not go through the sieve on any of the nor- 
mal labels. It is, to me, the residuum, which reveals a mind function- 
ing without an organism . . . Does it reveal more than that ? Does 
it suggest that the One Mind (whose awareness is Eternity) is made 
up of swarms of minds? Congeries of minds! dynamic, indestruc- 
tible electrons of personality, persisting in the Mass of Awareness, 



A PEAK IN DARIEN 145 

in that Whole, which some of us call God? Conceivably, God knew 
about Ed; knew about the buttons for the baby's rompers; knew 
about Stella's slippers ; knew that word "however". Could one of the 
minds of the swarm Agnes Pacquet's mind, say swirl for a second 
close enough to catch that glimpse of what the Whole knew namely, 
that Ed was drowned? If so, she remained herself, for the glimpse 
was appropriate to her; she felt grief! And grief like love, like 
memory, like will is an attribute of personality. So, though part 
of infinity, she remained finite! Did some other consciousness in the 
swarm Robin's consciousness have a flash of contact with the 
parlor maid's consciousness, and so get his message through to his 
mother? Did Lucy tell Molly something about their mother, which 
Mrs. Piper caught, and wrote down? Did Sir William Crookes' 
medium, push the blindness of her physical eyes aside, and read, with 
the eyes of the spirit, that word "however"? 

We can speculate thus about each of the trivial stories I have told 
you,^ because in all of them is this "residuum" ; this intelligence, 
displaying memory, will, appropriateness, selection which together 
equal what we call ourselves. But this residuum does not mean that 
the human self is lost, swallowed up by the Cosmic Mind, as the rain 
drop is swallowed by the sea! On the contrary, it makes our per- 
sonality fit into the scheme of Universal Consciousness, like a speck in 
a stupendous picture puzzle; a necessary speck, perfect in its place 
in the Whole, yet perfect in itself as a speck; as enduring in its per- 
sonality as the whole Picture the whole Plan the whole Universe. 
As immortal as God. As normal as God! 

Perhaps this is all the wild surmise that we make, staring at each 
other, silent upon the peak in Darien; but it is thinkable. To me, 
it is more than thinkable, it is an unavoidable deduction. Call it 
intuition, in George's mother it was plainly intuition. To me, it 
it is intuition, pillared and buttressed by Reason! George's mother 
called it Faith (oh, beautiful word so maltreated, like the word 
"God," by theology!), and she never needed, as I did, to add to her 
faith, knowledge. But Intuition, Faith, and, perhaps last of all 
Reason, plodding with heavy, steady feet behind those other two 
winged words even Reason may say, "Yes, it is thinkable that 
the Universe, whose thought is the Pleiades, and New England 
hills in October, and the laughter of little children, and the gal- 
lantry of old age, and the faithful love of a dog; it is think- 
able, that the Conscious Whole is made up of our consciousnesses." 



146 MARGARET DELANO 

To be sure, Reason adds that we are only motes in the light of 
stupendous suns, atoms of personality in the abysmal deeps of the 
Everlasting Personality. But even so, we cannot be exiled from 
Majesty, if we are part of It! Which, obviously we are, for we, 
too, know Beauty, Order, Love, Genius, Calvary. Is it too much, 
then, to expect that the Self which contains, shall continue Its 
individual selves, being, indeed, dependent on them? It was not too 
great an expectation for George's mother; "I am so happy," she said. 
So, using one of the many renderings of Job's poem, I answer for 
myself that old question: "If a man die, shall he live again?" 
"Yes! for 

"Even now, behold my witness is in heaven, 
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, 
And at last he shall stand up above the earth, 
And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, 
Then without my flesh shall I see God." 

Cambridge, Massachusetts. 



PART II 

Convinced of the Rarity of Genuine Psychical 

Phenomena 



CHAPTER VII 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 



BY WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 



This course of lectures on Psychical Research is, I believe, the 
first of its kind to be given in any university, whether of this or of any 
other country; and I venture to think that this innovation will prove 
to be yet another leaf added to the laurels of Clark University, al- 
ready so distinguished by its impartial and courageous spirit of re- 
search. 

Other lecturers, persons distinguished in the most various lines of 
activity, but all of them qualified by special study of the field of 
Psychical Research, will deal with special parts of aspects of the field 
and from the most diverse points of view. For it is the intention 
of those who have designed the course that it should represent with 
perfect impartiality every point of view from which this most difficult 
and controversial field may be approached; the only stipulation be- 
ing that each lecturer shall present his facts, his evidences, and his 
reasoning upon them in a truly critical spirit and with all the im- 
partiality and openness of mind attainable by him. 

This course being so great an innovation, it is fitting that this 
lecture should be devoted to the justification of the inclusion of 
Psychical Research among University Studies; for there can be 
no doubt that Clark University, while it will be praised by many 
for its courage and its pioneer spirit in thus opening its doors to 
a study hitherto denied University recognition, will also be severely 
criticized by others. It v/ill be said by those adverse critics that the 
University is encouraging superstition and countenancing charlatanry; 
that it runs the risk of leading its students into a slough of despair, of 
entangling them in a quagmire where no sure footing is to be found, 
where will-o'-the-wisps gleam fitfully on every hand, provoking hopes 
that are destined to disappointment and emotions that blind us to the 
dangers of this obscure region; dangers ranging from mere waste of 
time to disturbance of intellectual balance and loss of critical judg- 
ment ; dangers which he who enters by the gate we seek to open must 
inevitably encounter. 



ISO WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

Let me begin, then, by frankly admitting that such criticism is not 
wholly without substance and foundation. The field of Psychical 
Research has pitfalls and morasses unknown in other fields of 
science. The student entering this field cannot avoid contact with 
vast currents of traditional sentiment, which sentiments, in nearly all 
cases, he either shares or repudiates with an intensity of feeling that 
renders calm and critical judgment well nigh impossible. It is as 
though the student were invited to embark with Coleridge's Ancient 
Mariner ; to exclaim, with him, "We were the first that ever burst 
into that Silent Sea"; to witness, with him, strange and even hor- 
rible phenomena that seem to defy all the ascertained laws of nature, 
a phantasmagoria that can have no reality and no origin other than 
the phantasy of minds disordered by the conflict of strong emotions 
and blinded by glittering hopes long held before the imagination of 
mankind, hopes long deferred and now threatened with total ex- 
tinction by the triumphant progress of scientific enquiry. 

Let it be admitted, then, that this is no field for the casual amateur; 
for the man who merely wishes to take a rapid glance at the phe- 
nomena and thereupon form his own conclusions; for the person who 
approaches it in the hope of finding solace for some personal bereave- 
ment; for the dilettante who merely seeks a new and sensational 
hobby. It is a field of research which at every step demands in the 
highest degree the scientific spirit and all round scientific training and 
knowledge ; a field which gives the widest scope for the virtues of the 
scientific intellect and character and which, just because it makes 
these demands and affords this scope, is of the greatest value as an in- 
tellectual discipline. 

Here the mind long disciplined in other branches of science may 
find the supreme test of its powers and its training, tests of impar- 
tial observation, of relevant selection, of sagacious induction and 
deduction, of resolute discounting of emotional bias and personal in- 
fluence. Here, better than in any other field, it may learn to recog- 
nize its own limitations, limitations of knowledge, of power, of prin- 
ciple; and to recognize also the limitations of science and philosophy 
themselves, their inadequacy to give final answers to problems which 
mankind has long answered with ready-made formulae, handed down 
from the dim dawn of human reflection, and before which it now 
halts with burning desire for certainty or unsatisfied longing for 
more light. 

The difficulty, the obscurity, the dangers of a field of research are 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 151 

no sufficient grounds for excluding it from our Universities. Has not 
the teaching of all science in our schools and Universities been vigor- 
ously opposed on just such grounds, on the ground that such teach- 
ing might lead young people into intellectual and moral error, or 
raise in their souls insoluble problems and conflicts that would de- 
stroy their peace of mind? That question has been decisively an- 
swered. Our Western civilization has definitely repudiated the old 
way of authority, has committed itself irrevocably to live by knowl- 
edge, such knowledge as the methods of science can attain. It can- 
not return to live by instinct and traditional beliefs; it has gone so 
far along the path of knowledge and of self-direction in the light 
of knowledge that it cannot stop or turn back without disaster. The 
inclusion of Psychical Research in the scientific studies of our Uni- 
versities is the inevitable last step in this advance from a social state 
founded on instinct and tradition to one that relies upon knowledge 
and reason. 

But it may be answered by our opponents. The introduction of 
Science to our Universities was justified, in spite of its risks, because 
Science offers a mass of well established truths, truths which are in- 
dispensable to the life of the modern state. Psychical Research has 
rightly been excluded because it furnishes no such body of established 
truth ; it has solved no problems, has attained to no sure conclusions. 

Let us admit that this contention also is not without substance and 
force. But to accept it as a sufficient argument would be disastrous. 
It would imply a false and fatally narrow view of the functions of 
our Universities. It is on just such grounds that the movement 
against the teaching of evolution takes it stand. It is said that evo- 
lutionary biology must not be studied by young people, because evo- 
lution is not an established fact, but merely a theory, or a mass of 
unverified hypotheses. Yet all enlightened opinion rejects this reason- 
ing, rightly holding that the teaching of established truth is only one 
of, and perhaps not the most important of, the functions of a modern 
University. Such teaching may perhaps be the sole or main function 
of Technical Schools. Our Universities have other, higher, more 
important functions. 

We may, I think, distinguish three main functions of the Univer- 
sity, as follows: First, the function of educating the young people 
within its gates; secondly, the function of research, of extending the 
bounds of knowledge; thirdly, a function which, as the life of the 
modern State assumes an accelerating complexity, becomes more and 



152 WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

more important, namely, the function of exerting a controlling in- 
fluence in the formation of public opinion on all vital matters. Con- 
sider each of these three great functions in relation to our question: 
Should Psychical Research find a place in our Universities? 

First, then, the educational function. Under this head we may 
properly distinguish two very different, though inseparable, sub- 
functions; namely, first, the imparting of knowledge; secondly, in- 
tellectual and moral discipline. It is only as regards the former 
of these that Psychical Research is open to the indictment of its op- 
ponents. Let us admit, for the purpose of the argument, that it has 
not achieved any conclusions that may be taught as firmly established 
truths. That admission denies it a role only in what we may roughly 
estimate as one-sixth of the total field of activity of the modern 
University, a fraction of the field which is its lowest or least im- 
portant part. 

As regards the other educational functions, intellectual training 
and moral discipline, it may well be claimed for Psychical Re- 
search that it ranks very high, perhaps highest of all possible sub- 
jects of University Study. For consider In what does such dis- 
cipline consist? First, in attacking problems patiently and resolute- 
ly, in spite of failures and disappointments, in spite of uncertainty 
that any solution may be attainable. Surely, in this respect Psychical 
Research may claim a foremost place ! No other field of study makes 
such large demands on the patience and resolution of the student. 
Secondly, the discipline of observing exactly and recording faith- 
fully phenomena presented to our senses. There is a lower form of 
such discipline to which the young student of science is extensively 
subjected ; namely, the task of recording as exactly as possible all he 
can observe within some very limited field ; as when he has to weigh 
exactly some chemical substance, or when he is set down before a 
microscope and required to draw what is there presented to his view. 
Psychical Research offers little scope for discipline of just this kind; 
but this is a lower form of observation, one which does not of itself 
lead to discovery. There is a higher form of observation which re- 
quires selective sagacity; it is conducted with a problem in view and 
under the guidance of some hypothesis which is to be tested. It re- 
quires the observer to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, to 
look for the relevant, to concentrate upon it, and to devise ex- 
periments which shall isolate or accentuate the relevant. For dis- 
cipline in this higher kind of directed observation, Psychical Research 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 153 

offers unlimited opportunities and makes upon the observer demands 
of the highest order. Then as regards the reasoning processes by aid 
of which general conclusions are drawn from the phenomena ob- 
served. Here the demands upon the thinker in the field of Psychical 
Research are very great and the discipline consequently severe. The 
physicist or chemist observes the reactions of a single sample of some 
substance under particular conditions, and is forthwith in a position 
to state a general conclusion with high probability. The biologist 
observes some particular feature in fifty or one hundred specimens 
of some species and, without great risk, makes a generalization as 
probably true of all members of the species. 

But the Psychical Researcher is dealing with the most complex and 
highly individualized of all known objects, namely human beings; 
before he can summarize his observations in any generalized state- 
ment, he must exercise infinite caution, observe unlimited precautions, 
be ready to allow for an immense range of possible disturbing factors 
of unknown nature and magnitude. And, when he proceeds to ap- 
ply statistical treatment to his data of observation, he finds himself 
facing problems of unrivalled delicacy. For he can never, like other 
scientists, be content with the comfortable assumption that each of his 
unit facts is exactly or even approximately equivalent to every other 
one of the same general order. 

If, by reason of the complexity and delicacy of its problems, Psy- 
chical Research rivals all other branches of science, it far surpasses 
them all in respect of the demands it makes on character and, con- 
sequently, in respect of the character-discipline which it affords. It 
requires perfectly controlled temper, and a large and understanding 
tolerance of human weaknesses of every kind, intellectual and moral 
alike; an infinite patience in face of renewed disappointments; a 
moral courage which faces not merely the risk and even the probability 
of failure, but also the risk of loss of reputation for judgment, balance, 
and sanity itself. And, the most insidious of all dangers, the danger 
of emotional bias in favour of one or other solution of the problem 
in hand, is apt to be infinitely greater for the Psychical Re- 
searcher than for the worker in any other field of sicence; for, not 
only is he swayed by strong sentiments within his own breast, but 
also he knows that both the scientific world and the general public 
will react with strong emotional bias to any conclusion he may an- 
nounce, just because such conclusions must have intimate bearing on 
the great controversy between Science and Religion, a controversy 



154 WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

which, in spite of the soothing reassurances which great scientists and 
religious leaders now utter in unison, is still acute and may well be- 
come again even more embittered and violent than it has been in 
the past. 

As regards the second function of the University, the extension of 
knowledge, Psychical Research may boldly claim its place within the 
fold ; on this ground any opposition to it can only arise from narrow 
dogmatic ignorance, that higher kind of ignorance which so often 
goes with a wealth of scientific knowledge, the ignorance which per- 
mits a man to lay down dogmatically the boundaries of our knowl- 
edge and to exclaim "ignorabimus." This cry "we shall not, can- 
not know !" is apt to masquerade as scientific humility, while, in 
reality, it expresses an unscientific arrogance and philosophic in- 
competence. For the man who utters it arrogates to himself a knowl- 
edge of the limits of human knowledge and capacity that is wholly 
unwarranted and illusory. To cry ignorabimus in face of the prob- 
lems of Psychical Research, and to refuse on that ground to support 
or countenance its labour, is disingenuous camouflage; for the as- 
sertion that we shall not and cannot know the answers to these prob- 
lems implies a knowledge which we certainly have not yet attained 
and which, if in principle it be attainable, lies in the distant future 
when the methods of Psychical Research shall have been systematic- 
ally developed and worked for all they may be worth. The history 
of Science is full of warnings against such dogmatic agnosticism, the 
agnosticism which does not content itself with the frank and humble 
avowal that we do not know, but which presumes to assert that we 
cannot know. 

Let us suppose that, after forty years of tentative skirmishing in 
the wilderness, Psychical Research, in part as the consequence of this 
course of lectures, should be received within the scientific fold and 
systematically cultivated in our Universities; and suppose that, after 
a hundred years of such cultivation, its representatives, surveying the 
results of all the work done, should find themselves compelled to ut- 
ter a purely negative verdict, to assert that Psychical Research had 
attained to no positive answers to any of the problems it had set out 
to solve. What then ? We should still have to repeat There is the 
gate to which we have no key; there is the veil through which we 
may not see. But, also, we should still have to add And there the 
Master-knot of Human Fate ! And, though Science might then turn 
aside, baffled and discouraged, it would at least have given some re- 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 155 

spectable foundation for the cry Ignorabimus and have made some 
real contribution to our knowledge of the limitations of human 
knowledge. 

But, some hearer will object, this question of the limits of human 
knowledge is one not for Science but for Philosophy; and in all our 
Universities Philosophy has long had a well recognized place and its 
numerous representatives; it is for the philosophers to answer the 
questions which Science leaves unsolved. Such an objection would 
imply an old-fashioned and quite mistaken view of the scope and 
functions of Philosophy. 

Philosophy may rightly claim to teach us how to think, how to live, 
and how to die. It may answer the question Given the present state 
of the world and of our knowledge of it, what ought I to do? But 
it is wholly incompetent to answer the questions What may I hope? 
What may I expect: A cosmogony that is to be more than a fanciful 
speculation must be a scientific cosmogony; and, as science progresses, 
our- cosmogony must change with it. Every cosmogony that profes- 
ses to be philosophical rather than scientific is a hollow pretense. Only 
Science working by the methods of Science can presume to answer the 
question What is? Philosophy must learn that its proper field is 
defined by the question What ought to be? 

And here I will ask leave to revert to the disciplinary, the educa- 
tional, function of Psychical Research with special reference to stu- 
dents of Philosophy. In my opinion, formed through considerable con- 
tact with such students, their chief lack is knowledge of Science ; and 
of all forms of Science that which can most enlighten them in litera- 
ture can go far to induce in them that which so many of them need, 
namely, a clear recognition of the limitations of the scope of Philoso- 
phy and a corresponding humility in themselves as philosophers. For 
here they will find that questions which philosophers through all the 
ages have answered in their peculiar and utterly diverse fashions are 
capable of being approached by the methods of Science ; and the mere 
act of following in imagination such lines of approach can hardly 
fail to bring home to the student the fact that the methods of Phil- 
osophy, divorced from Science, are of no avail. He will be brought 
to realize that Philosophy, whether it aims to sketch the main features 
of the Universe or seeks to instruct us regarding the values and the 
duties of mankind, must, in both cases, proceed from the fullest pos- 
sible knowledge of what Science has achieved, or lay itself open to 



156 WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

those charges of futility and ignorant presumption which so often 
have been launched against it. 

What, then, are the essential questions on which we may expect 
new light from Psychical Research? They may all be resumed in 
one, namely Does Mind transcend matter ? Or more fully stated 
Is all that we call mental, intellectual or spiritual activity, is all un- 
derstanding and reason, all moral effort, volition, and personality, 
merely the outcome and expression of a higher synthesis of physical 
structures and processes and, therefore, subject to the same general 
laws and interpretable by the same general principles as those which 
Physical Science arrives at from the study of the inanimate world? 
Or are mental activities, are all or some of the essential functions 
of personality, in some degree independent of the physical basis with 
which they are so intricately interwoven? Have they their own 
peculiar nature, interpretable only in terms of principles quite other 
than those whose validity has been proved by the victory of man over 
his physical environment? 

It is the old problem of materialism versus spiritualism or idealism, 
of mechanism versus vitalism in biology ; or, as I would prefer to for- 
mulate it, the problem of animism versus mechanistic-monism. 1 This 
has been the central problem of Philosophy for more than two thou- 
sand years; and always the philosophers have been pretty equally 
divided into two groups, those who say "Yes" and those who say 
"No". The course of development of modern Science has on the 
whole tended strongly to give predominance to the view which denies 
the transcendence of Mind. Idealistic philosophers have struggled in 
vain to stem this tide, urging that it is absurd to regard as subject to 
the laws formulated for the interpretation of physical phenomena, the 
mind, which conceives the physical world and which has itself in some 
degree created those phenomena. 

But this and all similar reasoning remains inconclusive and must 
ever remain so. We are up against a question of empirical fact ; and 
the answer to the question can be brought only by the methods of 
empirical Science. 

Many of the greater physicists have inclined to think that their own 
science points towards a positive answer to this question of transcend- 
ence; and it is possible that the progress of physical science and of 



formulation of the problem is explained and defended in my book, 
Body and Mind. 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 157 

biology may in the course of time lead us to a decisive answer to this 
central problem. But, if so, the answer will be achieved only very 
slowly by very indirect methods of attack. The essence of Psychical 
Research is the proposal to attack the problem directly. If Mind in 
any manner and degree transcends the physical world and its laws, 
surely it may somehow and somewhere be possible to obtain direct 
evidence of the fact by the methods of science, by observation of phe- 
nomena and by reasoning from them ! That is the proposition on which 
Psychical Research is founded. Psychical Research proposes, then, 
to go out to seek such phenomena, namely phenomena pointing direct- 
ly to the transcendence of Mind, and, if possible, to provoke them 
experimentally. Phenomena of this kind have been reported in 
every age; and in every age antecedent to our own age, dominated 
as it is by the principles of scientific evidence, their obvious implica- 
tion has been accepted. Psychical Research proposes to marshal all 
such sporadically and spontaneously occuring phenomena, to examine 
them critically, to classify them, to discover if possible the laws of 
their occurence and to add to them experimentally induced phe- 
nomena of similar types. 

Consider now the third great function of our Univerities, the 
guidance of public opinion. It is perhaps from this point of view 
that the admission of Psychical Research to the Universities is most 
urgently needed. Here is a most obscure question vitally affecting 
the intellectual outlook and the moral life of men in general. Surely 
it is for the Universities to find, if possible, the light that we need! 
What ground can be found for their neglect or repudiation of the 
task? Several such grounds are implied, though rarely formulated 
explicitly. 

First it may be said, the task is one for the philosophers and theo- 
logians, who are well represented in the Universities. But phil- 
osophers and theologians have wrestled with it for long ages; and 
there is no faintest reason to believe that by their methods alone they 
can achieve in the future any greater success than they have at- 
tained in the past. Let us glance at the grounds they offer us for ac- 
cepting a positive answer in face of the general tendency of science 
to insist on the negative answer. They may all be reduced to two. 
First, the moral ground; to believe in the transcendence of Mind is 
a moral need of mankind in general. Such belief, it is said, is es- 
sential to the maintenance and progress of our civilization. Our 
civilization has been built up on a foundation of and under the sway 



158 WILLIAM MCDOUOALL 

of such belief; and, if that foundation and that influence should be 
taken away, our civilization must surely decline; even though it be 
possible for exceptional individuals to continue to attain high moral 
excellence in an attitude of stoic agnosticism. This argument is re- 
spectable; it has weight and substance. Given a balance of evidence 
and the impossibility of assured knowledge, we would be justified 
in accepting that view which seems the more conducive to human 
welfare. This argument, which perhaps William James was the 
first to state and defend explicitly, is, I suppose, implied by those who 
ask us to continue to accept the transcendence of Mind as an article 
of faith. But this moral argument in no sense justifies a refusal to 
countenance or support Psychical Research, which is nothing less than 
an endeavour to replace faith by knowledge in this matter. If, from 
time to time, religious leaders exhort their flocks to eschew Psychical 
Research and pour scorn upon it and all its works, we cannot wholly 
acquit them of a preference for ignorance over against knowledge. 
It would seem that they fear the result of Psychical Research ; they 
fear either a negative outcome of the great enquiry, or a positive out- 
come which shall disturb the minds of their flocks by bringing knowl- 
edge not strictly in accord with traditional beliefs. Therefore they 
ask us to remain content to accept these beliefs on authority. But it 
is too late to advocate that policy with any hope of success. As I said 
before, it is obvious that we have left the age of authority behind 
and that our civilization is irrevocably committed to the attempt to 
live by knowledge, rather than by instinct and authority. Consider 
now the second main ground offered for acceptance of the positive 
answer. If we ask whence does ecclesiastical authority derive the 
views it seeks to impose, the answer is that they are founded upon 
alleged historical events of a remote age, events of just such a nature 
as Psychical Research is concerned to investigate at first hand as 
contemporary events. However we regard the evidence of those re- 
mote events, we can hardly claim that the lapse of some two thousand 
years has made the evidence of them less disputable ; and in any case it 
is clear that mankind in general is ceasing to find that evidence suf- 
ficient. More and more we are inclined to say You ask us to ac- 
cept the transcendence of mind because we have certain records of 
events which, if the records be above suspicion, would seem to justify 
and establish that belief; and yet you would forbid us to examine, 
in a candid and critical spirit, similar events that are reported as oc- 
curing among friends and neighbours. Truly, he who repudiates 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 159 

Psychical Research in the interests of religion and of religious author- 
ity cannot easily be absolved from the charge of a timid obscurantism. 

But it is not only in respect of this high problem of transcendence 
that public opinion needs from the Universities guidance of a kind 
which they can give only if they cultivate Psychical Research. That 
after all is a problem for the intellectual few; although the views 
of those few may have far-reaching influence upon the lives of the 
many. The great public does not much concern itself with the 
question Are we truly in some degree rational beings capable of 
moral choice and creative endeavour? In the main they continue to 
regard themselves as such beings, in spite of all statements of scientists 
and philosophers to the contrary. But they are much concerned to 
know what kind and degree of influence Mind can exert uporl bodily 
processes, what truth there is in the claims of many sects and schools 
of mental healers. They do keenly desire to know whether there is 
a kernel of truth in the widely accepted claims of communication with 
departed friends; whether each of us, as science tells us, is forever 
shut off from all his fellows by the distorting and inadequate means 
of communication provided by sense-organs and muscular system; 
whether there is not some common stock of memory and experience 
upon which men may draw in ways not recognized by Science; 
whether at death each of us is wholly exterminated; whether ghost 
stories are founded only on illusion and other forms of error. 

There is in all lands an immense amount of eager questioning about 
such matters; immense amounts of time and energy are given to 
ineffective efforts to obtain more light on such questions. And un- 
fortunately there is a multitude of persons who for the sake of filthy 
lucre take advantage of these eager desires, these strong emotional 
needs, and of the prevailing lack of sure knowledge, to falsify, obscure 
and fabricate the evidence. 

It is perhaps this last aspect of the present situation which most 
urgently calls for action of the Universities. In spite of the immense 
and growing prestige of Science and its steady and scornful negative 
to all such questioning, the whole civilized world increasingly be- 
comes the scene of a confused welter of amateur investigation, of 
conflicting opinions, of bitter controversies, of sects and schools and 
parties, each confidently asserting its own views and scornfully ac- 
cusing the others of error, and of woeful blindness or wilful deception. 

The negations of the scientific world are of little or no effect upon 
this chaos of conflicting beliefs and ardent desires. And so long as 



160 WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

Science stands apart, coldly refusing to take a hand in the game, re- 
fusing to take seriously the questions asked, refusing to bring to bear 
upon the many phenomena that keep alive these conflicts, these hopes, 
and these beliefs, its powerful, highly organized apparatus of investi- 
gation, its negations will continue to exert but little influence toward 
stilling the tempest. 

Let me state the demand upon our Universities at its simplest and 
lowest. Let us suppose that we are firmly convinced that no positive 
knowledge is attainable, that the outcome of a sustained, organized, 
and co-operative attack upon the problems of Psychical Research, 
such as the Universities alone are capable of making, must lead to 
purely negative conclusions; I submit that, nevertheless, we ought to 
recognize such enquiry as a task which the present state of chaos 
in the public mind urgently requires of the Universities that they 
undertake and steadfastly pursue. 

The situation, its needs and its demands on the Universities may 
be illustrated on a small clear-cut scale by one particular problem 
which has long been recognized as crucial in Psychical Research, 
namely the problem of telepathy. Does telepathy occur? That is 
to say Do we, do minds, communicate with one another in any 
manner and degree otherwise than through the sense-organs and 
through the bodily organs of expression and the physical media which 
science recognizes? 

Science asserts that no such communication occurs or can occur. 
Yet in all ages antecedent to our own, belief in such communication 
has been universal. And in our own sceptical age and community, 
such belief is still very general. It is held by all intelligent Christians ; 
for it is implied in the practice of prayer and communion. A very 
large proportion of intelligent educated persons believe they have ob- 
served or experienced instances of such communication. In that high- 
ly educated, scientific and sceptical class, the medical men, it is I 
think true to say that about one in three believes that he has first- 
hand knowledge of indisputable instances of it. A careful, highly 
critical statistical survey of such sporadic instances, made by persons 
of the highest qualifications, has resulted in a strongly positive ver- 
dict. A number of carefully conducted attempts to obtain evidence 
of it under experimental laboratory conditions have given equally 
positive results. A number of men of great distinction and of the 
highest intellectual and moral qualifications have announced them- 
selves as convinced, after due enquiry, of its occurrence. Yet, in 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY 161 

spite of all this, Science, especially Science as represented in the 
Universities, refuses to regard the question of its occurrence as one 
to be taken seriously, as one deserving of investigation. And why? 
Simply because we cannot at present see how such communication 
can take place. 

Now, to deny that phenomena of a certain kind may occur on the 
ground that we cannot understand how they may be brought about, 
is very unsatisfactory even in the sphere of physical science. It is 
still more unsatisfactory and positively misleading in the biological 
sciences. And in relation to any events in which the human mind 
or personality plays a part, it is reprehensible and utterly inadmissible 
as a ground of denial or refusal of investigation. 

What more suitable task for a research department of a University 
can be conceived than the task of investigating such a problem. The 
individual man of science may and does offer two valid excuses for 
ignoring this and other problems of Psychical Research. He may 
say That is not my line, I have other things to do. Or he may say 
I have tried and have had purely negative results. But our Uni- 
versities as a group of national institutions cannot excuse themselves 
in this way. The signs of the times call aloud to them that they 
shall follow the courageous lead of Clark University, shall frankly 
acknowledge their responsibility and welcome Psychical Research to 
an honoured place within their gates. Nowhere else may we hope 
to find the calm critical temper of scientific enquiry sufficiently de- 
veloped and sustained; to no other institutions or associations can 
we hopefully entrust the task of shedding the cold clear light of 
science upon this obscure and much troubled field of vague hopes and 
vaguer speculations. 

In conclusion, greatly daring, I will venture to say a few words 
in reply to a question which I feel sure many of my hearers wish to 
put to me, the question, namely In your opinion has Psychical Re- 
search hitherto achieved any positive results? I am not the sort of 
person who holds a great number of clear-cut positive and negative 
beliefs. I am rather a person of the kind that deals in probabilities 
and degrees of probability, recognizing that our best formulations are 
but relatively true, that human mind and speech are incapable of for- 
mulating absolute truths. Therefore I can attempt in all frankness 
only qualified answers. In my view the evidence for telepathy is very 
strong; and I foretell with considerable confidence that it will be- 
come stronger and stronger, the more we investigate and gather and 



162 WILLIAM MCDOUGALL 

sift the evidence. In my opinion there has been gathered a very 
weighty mass of evidence indicating that human personality does not 
always at death wholly cease to be a source of influence upon the 
living. I am inclined to regard as part of this evidence the occurrence 
of ghostly apparitions ; for it seems to me that, in many of these ex- 
periences, there is something involved that we do not at all under- 
stand, some causal factor or influence other than disorder within the 
mental processes of the percipient. I hold that a case has been made 
out for clairvoyance of such strength that further investigation is 
imperatively needed; and I would say the same of many of the 
alleged supernormal physical phenomena of mediumship. I am not 
convinced of the supernormality of any of these in any instance. But 
I do feel very strongly that the evidence for them is such that the 
scientific world is not justified in merely pooh-poohing it, but rather 
is called upon to seek out and investigate alleged cases with the utmost 
care and impartiality. 

To some of you this confession will seem to make extravagant 
claims for Psychical Research ; to others it will seem that I am quite 
unduly sceptical. Such wide differences of view will continue to 
divide us until the Universities shall have brought order, system, and 
co-operative effort into the domain of Psychical Research. 

Harvard University, 
Cambridge j Massachusetts. 



CHAPTER VIII 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 



BY HANS DRIESCH 



1. Philosophy is theory of order. The word "theory" means 
systematic knowledge ; the meaning of the word "order" is indefinable. 
As the word "systematic" implies order itself, we may call philosophy 
the ordered knowledge about order; thus we find order on the sub- 
jective and on the objective side. 

The order with which philosophy has to deal is related to "every- 
thing." There is nothing that is not a possible object of philosophy. 
We, therefore, call the object of philosophy "the Universe," if we 
take this word in a very wide sense, embracing subjectivity as well 
as its counterpart. 

Philosophy in the first place takes the Universe as my Universe, as 
related to the Ego, "my" Ego as possessed or consciously had by I 
I do not say "me." Thus far philosophy is logic in the widest sense of 
the word. In the second place philosophy raises the question whether 
the word "in itself" or absolute has a meaning. It finds that it has; 
and for this reason a second part of philosophy, called metaphysics, is 
possible. 

All so-called sciences, the word taken in the widest sense, are 
branches of philosophy which live, as it were, an independent life. 
Psychical P.esearch is one of these branches, or, rather, the word 
"Psychical Research" or "Para- or M eta-psychology" to introduce 
the terms used in Germany and France denotes several branches of 
philosophy that have become independent to a certain extent. For, 
at the first glance at least, there is not one Parapsychology but there 
are several Parapsychologies, which may one day unite into one, there 
being several groups of psychic phenomena which, at first in any case, 
are as different from one another as, e. g., chemistry is from optics. 
Let me only mention telepathy and levitation, which in the first 
resort have certainly nothing in common except that they are "super- 
normal". It is our hope, of course, that there may ultimately be but 
one parapsychology, just as there is but one science of inanimate nature 
in our day, even chemistry and physics having come together. 



164 HANS DRIESCH 

2. We now approach our proper subject, the relation between 
Psychical Research and general philosophy, and it seems advisable to 
me to start from the former, Psychical Research, as we have seen, 
being a collection of rather different phenomena. To take it as one 
in the very beginning would mean to proceed in a dogmatic way. 
I know very well that there are certain hypotheses, the spiritualistic 
hypothesis for example, which allow of a great unification and simpli- 
fication. But they are hypotheses at present, and the real philosopher 
must approach his subject in quite an unbiased way, looking merely 
upon the facts and trying to find a certain type of order in them. 
This has also been the method that has made biology an independent 
science, whilst all biologists who start from physical and chemical 
problems find nothing but that from which they have started in the 
organism again, and have blinded themselves, as it were, with regard 
to the problems of life as they are. 

If now we look upon the various sides of Psychical Research in the 
way described, we realize at once that they show a relation to a great 
number of different problems of general philosophy, that the one 
thing belongs here and the other there, and that only ultimately, in 
the highest areas of philosophy, which means in that part where 
philosophy itself has reached its last very general principles, the 
philosophic importance of Parapsychology taken as one may be studied 
with some advantage. 

3. The phenomena of telepathy, mind reading, and clairvoyance 
(I intentionally use the old historical names to avoid misunderstand- 
ing, well aware of the fact that better names have been introduced, 
by M. Sudre for example) all those phenomena stand in a very 
close and clear relation to the theory of knowing as developed by 
general philosophy. 

For reasons of simplicity we now shall consider philosophy from 
the metaphysical point of view exclusively. That means that we 
shall start from the assumption that there is or exists something in an 
absolute way, and that "our'* universe, or, in other terms, the content 
of our experience, is the picture or appearance of that which exists. 
In this sense we may be said to start from a " realist ic" point of view. 
But the word realism means by no means materialism. For, first, 
even so-called matter is only appearance of something absolute to us, 
and secondly, there is certainly something else in the Absolute besides 
that which gives us the appearance of matter, this something mani- 
festing itself already in the phenomena of orderly organic life. 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 165 

From our metaphysical or, if you would prefer this, from our 
realistic point of view, now, all our knowing about particulars comes 
from two sources: there is a something which affects and there are 
minds which are affected. The result is a particular conscious pos- 
session on the part of the Ego in the form of appearance, the visual 
image of a flower, e. g., or even more, namely a flower regarded as 
a material so-called thing. 

How is knowing possible? Metaphysics has only one way of inter- 
pretation left to itself, so it seems to me. It must look upon Reality 
as composed of subject-points and of objects, and must assume that a 
primordial relation, which we shall call knowing potentia, exists in an 
unexplainable original way between these two sides of Reality. For 
it must not be forgotten that the one who knows is also part of 
Reality. To argue in a different way would lead into nonsense, for 
it would mean to assume that there is Reality and something besides. 

We shall not discuss here the problem whether the mind, when 
affected, attributes something to the result of the affection, namely 
the image or thing as an appearance, from its own qualities or proper- 
ties. This is the problem studied in the so-called theory of knowl- 
edge. In any case there are two sources of all knowledge; the af- 
fecting something and the affected mind, connected by the original 
or primordial relation, "knowing potentia"; and the result of the 
affection is actual knowing in the form of appearance. 

In normal life, now, all affection leading to particular knowledge 
starts from that side of Reality which appears under the form ot 
matter, and takes its way by stimulating that part of Reality which 
appears in the form of our body and in particular our sense organs 
and our brain. 

This is a great miracle, and is by no means understood. 
Think of this: The ultimate result of the affection is a certain re- 
arrangement of the electrons and protons in my brain and then I 
"see" the flower "outside in space'*. This in fact is a real enigma 
and will be an enigma forever. Things would be much easier for 
us to understand if the electrons and protons of the brain would "see" 
themselves f but this, as you know, is not the case. 

And now Psychical Research sets in; it tells us that in telepathy 
and mind reading we may not only "know" about things or material 
states, but also, and this in an immediate way, about the content of 
another mind's knowing, be it an actual Ego-knowing or merely a 
possible Ego-knowing, namely something that belongs to the sub- 



166 HANS DRIESCH 

or unconscious content of that mind. The latter is the case, wher- 
ever the mind reader reveals something of which the sitter is not 
actually thinking. 

The simplest kind of mind reading is so-called exteriorization of 
sensibility or, in short, extrasensibility, so well described by Dr. 
Pagenstecher in Mexico: his medium when in the hypnotic state felt 
his pain whilst he was hurting himself by a needle, tasted the sugar 
he ate, etc. 

All our normal knowledge about another mind's contents is reached 
in an indirect way; we see and hear that the other being moves and 
speaks, and then infer that his mind is in a certain state. In the 
realm of psychic phenomena the indirect way is turned into a direct 
one. Sense organs and brain are excluded. The knowing goes from 
subject to subject immediately; the relation "knowing potentia," 
therefore, must have existed also between them. 

I know well that there are some psychic researchers who try to 
explain telepathy and mind reading by means of a so-called radia- 
tion of a physical character, starting from one brain and affecting 
the other. But I have shown already in my London address that 
this hypothesis is absolutely impossible. Only with regard to ex- 
trasensibility this hypothesis might perhaps be applied, because in 
this case the same relation between the state of the brain and sen- 
sation may exist in the agent and the percipient. But this is ex- 
cluded in all complicated cases of telepathy; and for this reason the 
theory of physical radiation is not even probable with regard to 
those simple cases. 

This, then, is the new statement which the first part of Parapsy- 
chology attributes to the theory of knowing: the relation of knowing 
potentia exists also among subjects, and not between subjects and the 
object side of Reality exclusively; and it may be filled with content 
along those new and abnormal lines. 

And this seems to show that all subjects are One in some last 
resort. 

The phenomena of so-called dissociation of personality tend al- 
ready in this direction : there is one mind, but two or more Egos are 
implanted upon it, knowing about one another's contents as if they 
were strangers. One Ego knows here in a form as if it knew about 
the knowing of somebody else. And the same is true in dramatic 
dreams. 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 167 

I may also refer to certain embryological experiments, which I 
have carried out myself many years ago. If you separate the cleavage 
cells of an embryo from one another, say in the four-cell stage, you 
get as many complete organisms as you have isolated cells. And two 
eggs may be forced to form one giant organism together. Instead 
of the One the many; instead of the many the One. 

Does it not seem as if the "many" were all united in the "One" in 
the last resort, and might not this viewpoint be applied to our first 
class of psychic phenomena? 

4. So-called clairvoyance is much more difficult to approach than 
telepathy and mind reading are, and in particular so when what is 
usually called Psychometry is in question, which means when an ob- 
ject given into the hands of a medium reveals its whole past history 
to the psychic person. 

Three different forms of clairvoyance must be distinguished: 
clairvoyance into actual material conditions or states at a spatial dis- 
tance or of microscopical dimensions, clairvoyance into the past, and, 
finally, clairvoyance into the future, i.e., premonition or prophecy. 
At first we shall only consider the two first of these three species of 
clairvoyance. 

Very simple cases of clairvoyance are given if a Psychic knows 
the chemical nature of some substance which is prevented from stim- 
ulating his sense organs. These cases, as described by Chowrin for 
instance, must, of course, not be confused with extrasensibility as de- 
scribed above. In most cases it is not very easy to exclude mind read- 
ing, of course. In the case of Swedenborg, who "saw" the fire at 
Stockholm and the moment and locality of its being stopped, pure 
clairvoyance is probable, as it is in many other cases, the phenomena 
of the so-called divining rod belonging most probably also to this 
field of phenomena. 

Let me shortly refer to the experiments carried out with Mr. 
Kahn in the Institute Metapsychique at Paris: Kahn "reads" folded 
letters without touching them. Here also telepathic influences are 
very improbable, whilst in some of the performances of M. Forthuny 
their possibility cannot be excluded definitively. The performances 
of M. Forthuny, part of which I have personally seen, are extremely 
impressive. Psychometry may be implied here. For even if we can- 
not exclude telepathy and mind reading in a decided manner, it re- 



168 HANS DRIESCH 

mains true that he is in immediate contact with a certain object, 
which in this case is a human person. 

How may we understand clairvoyance, that is, how may we relate 
it to a class of facts already known? For this is the usual meaning 
of the word "understanding". If we put aside the spiritualistic hy- 
pothesis at first, only one possibility of understanding is left to us, so 
it seems to me, namely, that the subconscious Ego is omniscient to a 
certain degree, as Leibnitz believed his monads to be, and that in cer- 
tain persons, called mediums, parts of the total knowledge about the 
universe transcend the threshold of consciousness. "Why, then, are 
we not all actually omniscient ?" so you will ask. And the only pos- 
sible answer to this question may be, that we are not because it would 
make us unfit for life ; we should be confused by knowing too much. 
We must know only what is important for us in each moment. 
This is an idea brought forward already by Bergson. The whole 
matter is very unsatisfactory, and I therefore should not like to deal 
with it again and so merely refer to my London address. 

5. But let me say something on that strange fact called psy- 
chometryj which I have discussed in my London address but very 
shortly. Here also we shall at first exclude all spiritualism. If we 
do, then, so it seems to me, the only way open to us is to assume that 
every object in the Universe is impressed in a certain way by its own 
past history, and in particular so, but not exclusively, if this past his- 
tory relates to human beings. The object, a knife or a ring for ex- 
ample, is a material thing. Is for that reason its being impressed of 
a physical kind? In other words, is there something in the material 
conditions of the object that may reveal its history? This is hardly 
thinkable, for it is the chief characteristic of non-living nature that 
it only is at the present moment what it is, namely : a particular com- 
plex of protons and electrons. 

We may try to apply a more complicated hypothesis. Let us as- 
sume that, by the aid of the object, the clairvoyant is brought into 
connection with some other living mind and is now performing mind 
reading of the well-known type. But should we be able to under- 
stand this connecting role of the object without coming back to some 
sort of physical impression upon it, which, we have said, is quite 
unacceptable? And in a good many cases in the famous experi- 
ments of Dr. Pagenstecher, for instance the person, in whose mind 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 169 

the medium might be supposed to read, is dead. And we disregard 
spiritualism at present. 

I, therefore, must confess that I find it absolutely impossible to 
offer you any psychometrical theory on the grounds upon which we 
are moving at present. Clairvoyance without psychometry may at 
least be related to a certain philosophical doctrine, namely that es- 
tablished by Leibnitz, though, of course, this is also a very vague con- 
sideration. But the role of the object, the non-living object, in psy- 
chometry is the great enigma to us. If we consider this role as a di- 
rect and immediate one, then there must be something "on" the ob- 
ject which we are absolutely unable to understand, and if we regard 
the object as a mere vehicle, destined to connect the medium's mind 
with some other mind, it ultimately comes to the same, quite apart 
from the question that a good many of these minds are dead. You 
might say perhaps that the mere being seen or touched of the ob- 
ject on the part of the medium enables the medium to come into 
direct connection with some other mind; but even then the question 
arises as to how it comes that just this object is able to play this 
role. Again there must be something "on" it which we don't under- 
stand. 

Let me say one word more about the impossibility of any "radia- 
tion" theory in connection with clairvoyance in general. That such 
a theory is impossible with respect to mind reading and telepathy, I 
have shown in my London address and also shortly mentioned above. 
This theory formed on the analogy of tuning forks, is impossible here 
as, first, it rests upon the impossible theory of a psycho-mechanical 
so-called parallelism, and as, secondly, it is obliged to assume that the 
conscious experiences of the agent and the percipient are exactly the 
same, which is certainly not the case. With regard to clairvoyance 
the radiation theory is quite impossible in the case of reading a letter 
which is folded. The percipient knows about the meaning of the let- 
ter, not about its visual image, which, whenever the letter is folded, 
is a very complicated and chaotic one. 

Other difficulties of the radiation theory have been very success- 
fully explained by Tischner. And now radiation would not even suf- 
fice for an explanation of psychometry ! 

Clairvoyance into microscopic dimensions, as discovered by Wa- 
sielewski, might be explained by some sort of hyperaesthesia. But I 
do not say that it must. 



170 HANS DRIESCH 

6. Premonition or prophecy is absolutely ununderstandable. For 
if we say that time is nothing but a form of human experience, and 
that that which appears to us in time is timeless in the last resort, 
this is not much more than a playing with words. Osty is of the 
opinion that premonitions which refer to a human being's fate may 
often be reduced to mind reading in the Subconscious. This is cer- 
tainly true, as far as no accidents from without are concerned. And 
we may add that the effects of clairvoyance may also sometimes be 
taken for premonition: the medium may say that somebody "will" 
arrive, as it sees him already walking along the street. But a good 
many cases of premonition, so it seems to me, cannot be reduced to 
other classes of abnormalities in any way. Supposed, of course, that 
they are quite certain. But ununderstandable as they may be, all 
premonitions refer quite directly to the great philosophical problem 
of freedom and of free will in particular, and are, in any case, very 
important for us in this respect. 

Whoever accepts premonition as a fact cannot accept freedom in 
its strict sense, that is in the sense of indeterminism, at the same 
time. Freedom would make abnormal premonition just as impos- 
sible as normal calculation of any sort. For the chain of causal con- 
tinuity is broken by freedom. One way, however, seems to be left: 
you might say that premonition may go together with freedom if it 
only refers to possibilities, if it says nothing but "this fact will happen 
unless free will interferes." For we know that the contents of will- 
ing present themselves to an Ego in a determined way, and that his 
"free" action might only refer to a saying "yes" or "no" to these con- 
tents. But even then a great difficulty presents itself, as already one 
single free act would change the course of the whole universe in an 
unpredictable way. Therefore premonition together with freedom 
would be a matter of an enormous improbability and uncertainty, 
unless we assume that "free" acts are extremely rare. Better per- 
haps to reverse the matter and to say simply: whoever accepts pre- 
monition cannot accept freedom. Here we have found a point where 
Psychical Research is playing quite a decisive role with regard to 
Philosophy. 

Personally I should like to leave the question open until more 
cases of premonition have become known. 

7. The physical phenomena of Psychical Research, telekinesis, 
levitation, materialization, and the like, have been met by much more 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 171 

mental resistance among both scientists and laymen than the psychical 
phenomena have. Even those who tell us a good many stories about 
telepathy themselves may deny even the possibility of paraphysics. 
And yet it is here that Parapsychology is in closer connection with 
well established and well known facts of science than any where else. 
I may even go as far as to say: modern biology is already "psychical 
research", along the physical side, itself. 

The fundamental feature of all physical paraphenomena is this, 
that mind is an agent able to promote material events, the word 
"mind" being taken here in a very wide sense, including the Uncon- 
scious and the Subconscious. 

Let us begin by enumerating all cases in which a causal relation 
between mind and material phenomena is already well known along 
so-called normal lines. 

In the first place there is so-called will in its relations to the move- 
ments of my limbs, my tongue, etc. I "will", and something material 
happens. This alone is the correct formula, for "I" am not "doing" 
anything, as was already seen by Hume; except perhaps that "I" 
may stop the doing on the part of the unconscious part of my mind, 
as you must say if you are inclined to accept freedom. But. even 
then the performance of moving my arm or, in speaking, my tongue 
and lips is done by the mind as far as it is unconscious. And "I" do 
not even known how that is done, "stimulating my motor nerves", 
"contracting my muscles", etc. ; nay, as a layman in the field of physi- 
ology and anatomy, I do not even know that all these things exist! 
My mind knows them, and my mind also knows how to use them in 
order to reach a certain end which alone is "willed" by the Ego. 

Secondly, there is the psychical influence upon the secretion of the 
glands of the body, so well established by the Russian physiologist 
Pawlow in his studies on "psychical secretion". A smell of food 
makes the glands of the digestive tract secrete, in man as well as in 
the dog. This is not "willed" at all, a mere sensation or even imag- 
ination is concerned here. But, on the other hand, the event is not 
of the kind of an innate reflex. It rests upon a learning on the part 
of the Unconscious in the way of association ; and it is also subjected 
to the law of association in so far as a dog, for instance, may be 
brought to the process of secretion by merely hearing a specific tune 
which had always been presented to him when he got his food. 

In the third place there are the physical effects of suggestion and 



172 HANS DRIESCH 

autosuggestion in the hypnotic or even in the waking state. All of 
you know that in this way the bleeding of wounds may be stopped, 
that so-called "colds" may be prevented or at least reduced to a 
minimum, and that even, what is more, inflammations may be pro- 
voked by, say, the touching of the skin by quite an ordinary piece of 
metal, which is only "said" to be hot. And there are many other 
phenomena of a similar kind. 

Last, but not least, there is the modern aspect of general biology 
as a whole. This aspect is becoming vitalistic more and more, and I 
myself may claim to have played a certain part in this movement by 
my own biological theories. These theories were most decidedly 
based upon quite specific facts and are by no means lofty specula- 
tions. Certain facts in the field of morphogenesis, embryology as 
well as regeneration, can simply not be understood on a so-called 
mechanistic foundation, which means on the assumption of a specific 
given structure including nothing but the dynamic agents of physics 
and chemistry. The development of complete organisms out of iso- 
lated cleavage cells belongs here, and a good many other things. And 
the unconscious non-mechanical factor at work in these cases may cer- 
tainly be called "mind" in the widest sense of the word, though it is, 
of course, by no means the so-called "Ego". 

8. There are, then, non-mechanical mindlike agents which affect 
matter and are affected by it. And, in order to explain the so-called 
physical phenomena of parapsychology, we have to do nothing but to 
enlarge the area of validity of known agents, which means to assume 
that those non-mechanical agents are able to do still a good deal more 
than we are normally acquainted with. They are not only able to af- 
fect physiological processes, to direct and regulate the genesis of the 
normal form, they may also provoke abnormal structures under the 
guidance of imagination. This is what may be called an enlarged 
Coueism but nothing else. 

Let us keep well in mind that the action of what I have called 
Entelechy in the field of biology proper does not "create" matter but 
is only ordering pre-existing matter. And it is only this action of or- 
dering, of directing which we have to assume also in parapsychology, 
matter being everywhere. Mere assimilation, then, would be the 
most simple instance of a long series of events of which so-called ma- 
terialization would be the end. 

All this, of course, is only valid in those cases where physical para- 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 173 

phenomena are happening in continuity with a medium's body. Con- 
tinuous phenomena, to put it shortly, are in fact nothing but an en- 
larged vitalism. As soon as we agree that there are also discontinu- 
ous phenomena, so-called spook, apport, etc., our theory fails and we 
are moving upon an absolutely unknown field. 

But would it not be very narrow-minded to suppose that all 
"fields" of reality must be known to us today, and that there is 
nothing of an absolutely new character? 

Facts are always the first thing in science. And a man who tells us 
that certain facts "have never occurred and will never occur" as a 
very well known personality verbally did is not a great critic, but a 
negative dogmatist, very much resembling that famous professor of 
physics who "proved" the impossibility of the railroad. 

9. Discontinuous phenomena, in fact, are just as little understand- 
able at present as psychometrical phenomena are, at least on non- 
spiritualistic grounds. It even seems to me as if there were a certain 
sort of relationship between both classes of phenomena, and this 
brings me back once more to psychometry itself. In psychometry, 
as we know, there must be something unknown on a given material 
object, be it in an independent way or because this object is still 
in some unknown actual relation to some rnind. In discontinuous 
physical paraphenomena a certain amount of matter, which does 
not stand in any perceivable continuity with a living body, must 
nevertheless be in some sort of relation to it, and, in this respect, may 
also be considered as having something on itself. 

Perhaps we may say that in both cases there is still an actual con- 
tinuity, absolutely unperceivable to ourselves, and in this way we 
should avoid the action at a distance. The something which is "on" 
a material object in psychometry would in this case be itself some 
sort of materialized structure, perceivable only to those rare persons 
which we call mediums, just as many phantoms are said to be only 
perceivable to certain very exceptional persons. 

But, of course, this assumption of an unperceivable connection in 
the realm of those phenomena, which are de facto, i. e. as far as we 
know, discontinuous, is a mere hypothesis, and the only advantage it 
has, so it seems to me, is that it brings these phenomena together with 
psychometry under one heading. Psychometrical objects would them- 
selves be "spook"-objects to a certain extent. 

But, in a certain very wide sense, embryology and regeneration, 
from the vitalistic point of view at least, are already "spook," all 



174 HANS DRIESCH 

questions of distance being quite evidently only questions of the 
second order. 

Only on the assumption that discontinuous phenomena are not 
what they seem to be in the last resort is a certain sort of under- 
standing possible here. That means that only on this assumption dis- 
continuous phenomena also would belong to the realm of an enlarged 
Coueism and vitalism. If you reject this assumption, "understanding" 
becomes quite impossible. And it seems also to be in favor of our 
theory that some light falls from it upon psychometry, as we have 
said, and that this strange phenomenon acquires at least some sort of 
hypothetic elucidation. 

Let me still say some words on psychical "voices" and "lights" 
though only in the form of an additional note. If we regard these 
voices as genuine and not as performed by the subconscious side of 
the medium, we, of course, have to classify them together with 
materializations. For they are affections of matter on the medium's 
part, and it means but a slight difference in the last resort whether 
matter, : |jj|f ordered into specific form or into a specific combination 
of rhythmical movements. 

10. We now approach the discussion of a particular parapsychol- 
ogical hypothesis which so far, quite intentionally, has not been taken 
into consideration, in order not to burden Psychical Research from 
the beginning with a theory which is not its prerequisite by itself, 
namely, Spiritualism. 

For Spiritualism is not the same as Parapsychology, but is a par- 
ticular hypothesis within its realm, in exactly the same way as the 
theory of natural selection is a particular hypothesis in the realm of 
the general theory of evolution. Spiritualism is, however, a logically 
legitimate hypothesis, i.e. a hypothesis which is free from any con- 
tradiction in itself. 

The hypothesis of Spiritualism may be understood in two various 
forms, a general and a more specified one. In its general form Spirit- 
ualism merely assumes that there is some mental entity embracing the 
remains of formerly living minds after their so-called death, leaving 
open the question whether this mental entity is split off into persons 
or not, and, if it is, whether these persons correspond to the original 
persons one by one. In its more specified and, so to speak, popular 
form, spiritualism says that the personal minds qua personal minds 
survive death in some unknown form of existence. 

It now cannot be denied that there are some facts in Parapsy- 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 175 

chology which are able to make the spiritualistic hypothesis material- 
ly, and not merely logically, possible and perhaps even probable to a 
certain extent, this hypothesis, at first, being taken in a very general 
sense. 

11. Let me begin the discussion by enumerating these facts: in the 
first place there is the selective character of mind reading, so often ex- 
perienced in the phenomena shown by Mrs. Piper and Mrs. Leon- 
hard. The medium "reads" something out of this mind and some- 
thing out of that, and yet it puts all the results of its reading together 
into the characteristics of one personality that is dead at the time of 
the sitting. This feature, of course, may be explained on the assump- 
tion that the medium is guided in its selection by that personality qua 
still existing. It may however be explained also by assuming that the 
medium is at first getting a general type of the person in question by 
a mind reading in one of the sitters, and that the selective mind read- 
ing that follows is under the guidance of the subconscious idea of the 
medium, gained in the way described. In this case the guiding per- 
sonality would merely have an existence in the medium's mind. 

The phenomena which have been called the classics by British 
authors belong here, too, and need no mentioning under a particular 
heading. For to have spoken Latin or Greek belongs to the char- 
acteristics of a personality. 

In the second place there are the cross correspondences, though 
these also, of course, may be explained by a mind reading among 
various mediums at a long distance. 

So much for the topics which might be brought forward in favor 
of spiritualism and which have already been mentioned in my London 
address. But there is still something more, so it seems to me now. 

In the third place the book and newspaper tests, so well elaborated 
by the British S. P. R. They would belong to clairvoyance and not 
to mind reading or telepathy, if they are taken as "animistic" phe- 
nomena. But it is hardly imaginable how the medium itself should 
be able to discover a passage in any book, unknown to it so far, that 
relates to a particular fact with regard to a sitter. A spirit that has 
known the book in his life might do it, of course. We do not know 
what he "might" do, in any case. But if he exists, it would not seem 
to be too much to attribute to him this faculty. 

In the fourth place there is a certain fact in favor of spiritualism, 
the mention of which may surprise you, and this is the very limited 
faculty of all mediums. They know a good deal in an abnormal way, 



176 HANS DRIESCH 

that is true. But they are by no means omniscient. But does not 
this fact stand in direct opposition to spiritualism? so I hear you 
saying. I answer: no, not at all. For it is rather hard to under- 
stand why the faculty of a psychic person, that once is in possession 
of supernormal power, should be as limited as it actually is. Whilst 
if we assume a formerly living personality to be the real agent upon, 
the scene, we should quite well be able to understand his limitations. 
The more so, if we apply to the second, particular form of spiritual- 
ism, granting the endurance of the mefntal personality qua personal- 
ity beyond the grave. For in this case the "spirit" might be bound 
to his former experiences, and these, of course, are very limited, as 
they are in each of us. I must confess that this argument seems to me 
to be very impressive, in particular if taken together with the first, 
selective mind reading. It might, however, be also possible in some 
cases to explain the limitation of knowledge on the part of the medium 
by the limited experiences of the sitters. But there are instances, in 
the book tests for example, in which there is limitation in fields where 
mind reading does not seem to come into account. 

In the fifth place, we only raise a question: Are there cases in 
which a medium gave evidence of facts known to absolutely not one 
living person ? I confess that I am not quite convinced of the reality 
of such facts though, of course, I do by no means deny it a priorL 
But if such cases existed, you might, of course, recur to psychometry, 
for there are certainly some objects which have been in connection 
with a person who is now dead. This would, however, be a psychom- 
etry at distance. 

Psychometry itself is now to take the sixth place in our enumera- 
tion. We have said on a former occasion that psychometry might per- 
haps be understood on the assumption that the psychometric object 
has something "on" itself that connects it with a mind and that, in 
this way, the object serves to connect two minds with one another 
and to allow mind reading on the part of the medium. But, so we 
were obliged to add, the psychometric medium very often seems to 
read in a mind that does not exist any more. What, then, about 
"reading"? On the spiritualistic hypothesis that mind would exist 
in the case of Dr. Pagenstecher's experiment for instance. Living 
mind or "dead" mind, that would no longer make any difference. 
Uniformity in explanation would be reached. 

Finally let me but shortly mention all physical phenomena occur- 
ring without continuity with a medium's body, all kinds of spooks, 



PSYCHICAL RESEARCH AND PHILOSOPHY 177 

phantoms, and the like. Here we meet the very roots of popular 
spiritualism and, unfortunately, at the same time very unsolid ground. 
Things, however, begin to clear up. 1 

12. All phenomena mentioned so far would be explained on one 
and the same foundation as soon as we would be inclined to accept 
spiritualism, and this is the great advantage of this hypothesis. This 
advantage, however, is not sufficient, so it seems to me, to accept it in 
a definite way. For, on the one hand, other kinds of explanation, 
however artificial they may be, are still possible, and, on the other 
hand, it has always been regarded as a sound principle of research not 
to introduce new entia praeter necessitate, which means to introduce 
them only if no other way is left. And the spirit would certainly be 
a new ens, even if we endow him only with superhuman and not with 
transhuman faculties. 

Prophecy, of course, would remain unexplained on the foundation 
of such a sort of spiritualism also, unless we are inclined to attribute 
to the spirit faculties of an absolutely unknown kind. 

Let me once more come back to the two kinds of spiritualism men- 
tioned above, one of them very general and indefinite, the other refer- 
ring to personal immortality in the popular sense. William James was 
inclined to the first form of spiritualism in a certain way: a foreign 
personality seemed to be at work in the Piper phenomena, but he 
was not sure that this was just the personality of his friend Hodgson. 
The Italian parapsychologist McKenzie has advocated a similar view, 
assuming that there is a general Supermind into which the individual 
minds are lost after death, but out of which new constellations of the 
character of a "person" might emerge under certain conditions for 
a limited time. The relations between Supermind and personal minds 
would then be of the same kind as those between one mind and 
various Egos in the case of so-called dissociation. 

Oesterreich has justly said that we should never be able to decide 
between the two forms of spiritualism, even if we accepted it as a 
whole. And yet, so I think, one of the two forms of spiritualism may 
perhaps appear to be more probable than the other, when our positive 
knowledge will be more advanced than it is today. 

So much about the spiritualistic hypothesis. Animistic hypotheses, 
of course, are not abolished by it, for it would certainly be very un- 
wise to refer to a disincarnate being in the face of every psychip phe- 



. Bulletin II (Walter F. Prince), published by the Boston S. P. R. 



178 HANS DRIESCH 

nomenon. But might it not be that incarnate and disincarnate spirits 
are ultimately one class of beings, and that, in this way, all mental 
phenomena of Parapsychology might be reading in "some mind" in 
the last resort? This, so it seems to me, has been Frederic Myers* 
opinion. It may be true. If it were, a new and particular form of 
Spiritualism would be established. 

13. Facts are needed in the first place, facts, and facts again. We 
must be very careful not to be too rash. Make hypotheses, as many 
as you like, but never forget that they are mere working hypotheses, 
destined to be thrown away whenever they do not stand any fact. 

The main thing for Psychical Research, in my opinion, is to get 
a more direct control with regard to conditions of experiment. The 
best thing, of course, would be if we could get mediumship as a 
whole into our hands, which means if we could make every human 
being a "medium" whenever we like. This is not at all out of the 
realm of probabilities. For it is not very probable that the media 
are a particular species of human beings. Every man is probably a 
potential medium, but we do not yet know the conditions under which 
his potencies become actualities. We shall know this one day, so I 
hope, and it seems, e. g., as if chemical substances might have the 
faculty of provoking mediumship. What we may try now is to have 
control of the outer conditions of experiment to any extent we like. 
Darkness, e. g., is a great handicap in all physical experiments, for it 
always leaves room for scepticism. The medium or the "spirit", if 
there is any, tells us that there must be darkness. Well, tell the 
medium that you don't believe that, and try the matter at least in a 
dim red light. And if this goes well, suggest to the medium, in the 
Coueistic fashion, that everything will now go perfectly well in or- 
dinary light also. I was told by a member of the British committee 
that investigated Eusapia Palladino at Naples that the best results 
were got one day at noon in a very good light. This ought to en- 
courage us not to become the absolute slaves of the medium or the 
"spirit". We must try to make the medium our object, and not be 
his. As soon as we shall have reached the new standard of conditions 
and controls just mentioned scepticism will become quite impossible. 
For it would be ridiculous, as a good deal of it is now. 
University of Leipzig, 
Leipzig, Germany. 



CHAPTER IX 
IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE? 



BY WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 



No cautious and intelligent person can or should be convinced by 
testimony that supernormal phenomena exist except on the basis of a 
great many case reports, nor can he take into consideration any case 
report which is not full, detailed and critical in the extreme. There- 
fore it would be quite hopeless for me to attempt in the limits of one 
lecture, to convince anyone by citing cases. I shall occasionally refer 
to one by way of illustration, and toward the close I may present 
one or two case sketches with the understanding that they are only 
"thumb-nail" sketches and that the full reports are available in print. 

In the main what I have to say will constitute a study in trends 
and reactions. What were the causes which led to the foundation of 
Societies for Psychical Research? What has been the effect of in- 
spection and study upon the minds of persons apparently well quali- 
fied? Why is it that after nearly half a century Psychical Research 
Societies are still in existence and even multiplying? Have the 
methods of psychical researchers, to outward appearances, been 
cautious, logical and painstaking, or otherwise? How far has earnest 
and protracted psychical research, deserving of the name, resulted 
in making thorough skeptics ? How far have opponents shown them- 
selves qualified by experience or by study? On which side, among the 
most scientific leaders, is there the greater appearance of dealing with 
facts rather than dogmas, with logic rather than appeals to authority? 
What are some of the arguments against psychical research, and to 
what extent are other branches of scientific inquiry also liable to the 
weight of them? Is psychical research becoming more or less form- 
idable with the passage of time? Are there sets of facts on which 
experienced researchers are practically agreed? If there are sets 
upon which they differ greatly, how is this to be explained? Has 
psychical research made, aside from the category of the supernormal, 
any worthy contributions to knowledge? In the main this paper is, 
though I dislike the term, a study in behaviorism as related to 'psy- 
chical research. 



180 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

1. Phenomena of the same nature as those which now form the 
subject-matter of psychical research are witnessed to from the first 
records of the human race, apparently in all lands. They are in our 
Bible and other bibles. They are in ancient Roman histories and 
biographies. They are in the writings of the Christian Fathers, and 
so on to our day. Many of them are given at second-hand, many 
are doubtless distorted and curiously interpreted in the telling, yet the 
narratives witness to human belief in actual experiences. Oddly, we 
sometimes hear it said as a taunt that such beliefs were common in 
ancient times and are common among aborigines, which isj exactly what 
we should expect would be the case if the phenomena to A^hich they re- 
late, correctly described, are integral to the human r^ee. 

2. Such testimonies may be found far more frequently in our own 
vaunted period of enlightenment than in any former period, now 
that effort is being made to collect them and it is comparatively an 
age of recording. They are not confined to the ignorant or the 
credulous, but are shared by the greatest intellects. Nor do they 
shun the lives of scientifically inclined men, though these tend to dis- 
courage them, discount them, and much less frequently to record than 
tell them to intimates. 

I have noticed that if a small group of intelligent men, not sup- 
posed to be impressed by psychical research, get together and such mat- 
ters are mentioned, and all feel that they are in safe tnd sane com- 
pany, usually about half of them begin to relate exceptions. That 
is to say, man after man opens a little residual closet and takes out 
some incident which happened to him or to some member of his fam- 
ily, or to some friend whom he trusts, and which he thinks odd and 
extremely puzzling. I made a remark of this kind once when with 
six men of high standing in various professions. No sooner had I 
ceased speaking when a physicist whose name is known over the world 
told of something which happened to him when a young man how he 
heard his father's voice pronouncing his name at the very hour, as it 
afterward proved, when his father died, hundreds of miles away. 
He ended : "That is something I never could understand." I do 
not think the physicist would forgive me if I revealed his name. Then, 
to my equal surprise, a very prominent physician, whose name is 
familiar to the profession all over the country, told stories of what 
seemed like telepathy in his own family. A noted editor and a well- 
known lawyer followed suit. 

3. There is a large degree of homogeneity in the stories ancient, 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 181 

mediaeval and modern, subject, however, to at least two disturbances 
even when told at first-hand. (1) Superadded interpretation, as 
when Luther said that he saw the devil, whereas had he lived in the 
20th century he would have said he saw the apparition of a man, the 
notion that it was the devil being his interpretative addition. (2) 
Modification by the subconsciousness under the influence of the zeit- 
geist and the individual composite. As among the waving grass-blades 
shimmering in the morning light a pious child would be more likely 
to experience the illusion of a winged angel, and an ardent youth 
the illusion of a dancing girl, so, admitting that there are veridical 
apparitions, they are probably subject to modification by that strange 
mechanism, the mind, which at the same time is acted upon and acts 
upon itself. Thus, if one saw a vision of his deceased mother gazing 
pityingly upon him, a few moments after, as it proved, his far-distant 
father died, we might well, on the background of many similar cases, 
suspect a supernormal stimulus, but likewise suspect an intermixing 
memory stimulus to account for her being dressed in the familiar 
garb of years gone by. 

Nevertheless, many of the ancient and mediaeval stories strikingly 
resemble the recorded and authenticated ones of our own time. Un- 
becoming as they may be in an age of science, dreams more complexly 
coincident with uninferrible events of the near future than any pro- 
phetic dreams in the Bible have been proved to occur in our generation. 
Lest some of my hearers should gaspingly turn for relief to Royce's 
theory of pseudo-memories, I add that I refer to dreams actually re- 
lated to intelligent witnesses before the astoundingly coinciding events 
occurred. The raps which I studied in my own home, in my office 
and in the office of a New York physician lead back to the startling 
thumps which Luther heard in his monastery and in Wartburg 
Castle. The Apostle Peter's becoming aware of the messengers 
from Cornelius before they were in sight is analogous with the authen- 
ticated recent case of the lady who saw while awake a vision of a man 
of whom for a long time she had heard nothing, with his face tied 
up in a bandage, at the hour when her husband at a distance beheld 
with astonishment this man's face so bandaged as he lay in his coffin. 
The double incident of Peter and Cornelius is of a type with the re- 
cent authentic case of a New Jersey woman of culture who had a 
waking vision of her dead father and living foster-brother, which she 
immediately told to persons whose testimonies I have, it afterwards 
proving that at that hour her brother on a war ship in the North Sea, 



182 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

as a torpedo was approaching, saw the apparition of his foster-father 
on the deck beside him. These were not beliefs, they were actual ex- 
periences, strangely coinciding subjective facts, which no so-called 
"logic of science" can annihilate. 

4. The foregoing considerations determined a group of English 
university men 44 years ago to found a society for the investigation 
of such alleged incidents. One of the prime movers, Professor Henry 
Sidgwick, who has been called the "most incorrigible skeptic in 
England," nevertheless agreed that it was the scandal of science that 
it had never more than sneered at all this testimony of the ages, that 
it made no effort finally to determine whether there is or is not any 
fire back of so much smoke. At least it would be worth while as a 
study of folk lore and of psychology, and would, if all was found 
illusory, have the effect of discouraging an epidemic which, if it be- 
gins in the slums of human mentality, frequently enters the palaces 
thereof. 

5. Forty-four years have passed since the Society for Psychical 
Research was founded. Several other worthy organizations have in 
the meantime arisen to engage in the same inquiry, not to give heed 
to less respectable ones. Some of the most eminent scientists on earth 
have taken part, some of the most brilliant intellects, some most 
familiar not only with pathological mentality, but also with the oc- 
casional queer mechanisms of the normal mind, not omitting some 
expertly conversant with the methodology of fraud in this field. If, 
after all, comparatively few with such varieties and combinations of 
equipment lent themselves to the work, it really seems as if there 
were enough and the time elapsed enough to have already proved to ap- 
proximate certainty that only superstition and credulity, illusion and 
delusion, infantilism and mental aberration underlie these million 
stories, if such indeed is the case. But the 44 years have not had this 
result. If I could go no farther, this would be a striking announce- 
ment. After thousands of years science at last turned its critical eye 
upon the matter, men of learning, intellectuality, logic and familiarity 
with critical procedure took hold, some of them with the full ex- 
pectation of showing that the whole class of beliefs was without 
rational foundation, and they have not succeeded. 

6. More than this, a number of species of claims formerly almost 
universally derided by intellectuals so far as their public announce- 
ments were concerned, have been placed upon a firmer basis than 
ever before. And, mirabile dictu! a not inconsiderable number of 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 183 

eminent scientists, men of brilliant intellects, adepts in logic and 
critical procedure, trained detectives in the jungle of human illusion 
and delusion, have actually become convinced on the evidence, that 
more or less types of supernormal claims are valid. It would ap- 
pear that, if it was worth while in 1882 to begin an organized at- 
tempt to study the phenomena alleged, there is now ten times the 
motive to continue that study. 

7. Let us not lose sight of the significance of the fact that many 
of these convinced men started their quest as materialists, and that 
the training and prepossessions of the scientific fraternity were ad- 
verse to the claims under consideration. And yet as honest analyzers 
and reporters of the facts they have declared their conviction that 
certain species of hitherto discredited claims are justified. 

To cite one example, if any man was fitted by mental constitution 
and by equipment to build a road clear across the bog, assuming that 
the whole region of psychical research is a bog, Dr. Richard Hodgson, 
the academic product of two great universities, lecturer in one of 
them, seemed to be the man. Of keen and logical intellect, author 
of historic exposures of fraud, co-author of the finest demonstration 
of the possibilities of mal-observation and memory aberration in ex- 
istence, unusually versed in the methodology of fraud and deception, 
he was regarded as the arch skeptic, and his appointment to the head 
of Psychical Research in this country was hailed by its opponents 
with approval. After years of study, particularly with Mrs. Piper, 
he became convinced that several types of mental supernormal claims 
were valid, and that certain phenomena were best explained by the 
spiritistic hypothesis. Therefore it is now dogmatically asserted that 
he was all the while dominated by the "will to believe," although 
for years manifesting the very opposite symptoms. 

8. As intimated, the favorite jeer of scientific opponents is that 
such men as Lodge, Barrett, Crookes, Myers, Hodgson and Hyslop, 
were victims of a "will to believe." If uttered in good faith this 
cry is simply a tabloid of desperate superstition, superstition because 
it is a belief irrationally grounded and desperate because beyond it is 
the deep sea of utter inability to explain the conviction of those quali- 
fied men who have most laboriously and protractedly studied the 
phenomena, without admitting that they probably obtained some re- 
spectable evidence. Of course no man is absolutely without bias, 
and it is possible that some man even of the calibre of those I have 
named was not inwardly displeased to find evidence in favor of super- 



184 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

normal claims, exactly as it is very possible that a scientific opponent 
allows the scales of his thinking on the subject to be weighted by a 
will to disbelieve. But prior to his study of the evidence the man with 
the hypothetical will to believe may have seemed to keep it in good 
subjection. If he secretly longed to live after bodily death, in some 
cases he neither went to church nor read nor conversed much on 
religion. It really looks as though, with most men, actual present 
advantages rather than those of a hypothetical future world are more 
influential. We don't know what inner craving for continuance a 
given psychical researcher may have had (for aught I know, most 
scientific men, pro and con f if their lids could be taken off, would re- 
veal at least a vestige of such an instinctive craving, and if so the fact 
would be to a degree evidential) but we do know, and he knew, that 
his reputation for sanity and judgment, that his scientific standing, 
that his very job, would be less secure if he announced that a claim 
to the supernormal was established. It is certain that such motives 
to create a "will to disbelieve would press upon him as they do on 
those who announce themselves as opposed, while the slogan that a 
Lodge or a Hodgson is actuated by a will to believe is purely a dogma, 
as fully as that of the philosopher's stone. But, equally enamored of 
this comforting dogma and of the Freudian technique, an eminent 
gentleman undertook to reconstruct the biography of a living man, 
encouraged by lack of response from dead worthies subjected to a 
similar process. Sir Oliver Lodge, said he, is convinced of survival 
because he is getting to be an old man who doesn't wish to lapse from 
being, and because he wants to see again his son who was killed in the 
Great War. How evident that, instead of yielding to the logic of ob- 
served facts, Sir Oliver gravitated toward the fulfilment of his wishes ! 
Only Sir Oliver was not an old man when he arrived at his con- 
victions, long before the war, and his son was yet a boy. But why 
should facts be allowed to spoil a fine theory? 

9. For the most part all this talk about a "will to believe" is be- 
side the mark and foolish. What if Columbus did have a will to be- 
lieve that if he sailed westward far enough he would reach land 
the essential thing is that he proved his belief correct. As Tyndall 
has told us, there comes a point in a man's investigation of an ob- 
scure phenomenon when he legitimately employs his "scientific imag- 
ination" to picture a cause or concurrence of causes which would 
satisfactorily explain the phenomenon. From the time that he has 
so framed his theory, and so long as it continues to form the most 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 185 

economical and adequate solution, he can hardly help wishing that 
it may prove to be the true one. That must have been the case with 
Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Faraday, Darwin and all the rest. Who 
cares for that? The only question is what evidence did they pro- 
duce and what was their argument founded thereon? 

10. A man reaches his convictions in any one of three ways. (1) 
In the main by the intellectual route, through study and reasoning, 
or (2) partly by this route but also partly through his emotions, his 
prejudices and likings, or (3) mainly through these emotional by- 
ways. Whatever class he belongs to can be pretty well gauged by 
the way he writes or talks. It is certain that many advocates of 
supernormal phenomena and theories belong to the last class. Their 
reports of cases are full of leaks, their inductions are hasty and 
fragile, they rush to defend cases of another continent against the 
judgment of the actual and competent observers, their language is 
heated and hortatory, they display a degree of zeal becoming to an 
apostle but not to an investigator of facts. There are also the half- 
way class, those who have had and set forth some evidence, but mix 
with it so much indiscrimination, incaution and intemperate zeal as 
also to make them ineffectual except with the unthinking and as marks 
for their adversaries. Mesmer in his time announced a new and very 
important fact to the world, but in his ignorant zeal invested it with 
so much extravagent nonsense as to delay its scientific reception for 
half a century. Nevertheless it was the reproach of science that it 
turned away in disgust and did not go directly to the dust-heap and 
lay hold of the valuable thing therein hidden, as a similar course is 
a reproach to it today. 

But there have been and are persons whose works show them to 
have been careful, intelligent and patient observers, experimenters, 
analyzers and synthesizers of evidence. Fully as much as Darwin or 
Huxley or Tyndall or Spencer, do such leaders minutely collect, 
examine, weigh and classify their facts. They are fully as conserv- 
ative, paving their way as they go, their language is as temperate and 
they as seldom give vent to exclamations of impatience at the im- 
pudent and vacuous volubility of their critics. They set forth the 
facts and the conditions in detail, they dodge no difficulties, and calm- 
ly discuss the various possible theories to account for the facts. They 
have built up a precautionary methodology from which many a psy- 
chological laboratory, as Professor Schiller has shown, 1 might borrow 
^Proceedings S. P. R., Part 35, pp. 361-364. 



186 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

hints to make its inferential errors less frequent. Hence the spectacle 
of such men, standing up before a taunting scholastic majority and 
calmly announcing that they have reached, severally, one or another 
stage of conviction that supernormal facts actually exist, is a pro- 
foundly impressive one. 

11. Now let us apply the same test, analysis of modes of discus- 
sion, to the physical scientists, psychologists, physicians and others 
who have written books and articles attacking the whole domain of 
Psychical Research, including telepathy. I make a statement which 
will seem incredible, but which defies confutation. Every one of 
them, by the application of the test is shown to belong, when he en- 
ters the field of Psychical Research with general, hostile intent? to the 
third class, that composed of persons whose conclusions are actuated 
mainly by their emotions, by manifest bias and prejudice, rather than 
by calm reasoning on the basis of careful study; persons who react 
irrationally to particular subjects which for some reason are obnoxious 
to them^ and evidence the fact by generalities, a priori assumptions, 
refusal to face squarely and discuss calmly main issues, attacks on men 
of straw, weird logic which they would deride were it employed in 
their own special field, indulgence in wild and unsupported hypotheses 
in regard to the intellects of all their opponents, exhibitions of ignor- 
ance of their subject matter by frequent blunders of fact, exclamations 
of disgust and sundry marks of emotionalism. So emphatically is this 
true that I wrote for a London magazine 3 an article exhibiting these 



"The reader is asked to take account of every word in this italicised pass- 
age. I do not accuse scientific men in general of being emotional or unfair, 
nor the particular men referred to of being so characterized in other fields 
than that of psychical research, nor even men who have written against the 
spiritistic theory, endeavoring to account for the facts by telepathy. Nor is 
my statement based upon conjecture. It is an induction drawn from actual 
survey of the books and articles which indiscriminately attack all alleged 
supernormal facts and theories. Most scientific men lack both interest and 
time to pay attention to psychical phenomena, and write little or nothing re- 
lating thereto. Such as do have the interest and time to study the facts tend 
to become impressed by them, and either to express to one or another degree 
their interest, or at least to refrain from disparagement. But a comparatively 
small number, to whom psychical research is as the traditional red rag to the 
bull, turn their attention to it mainly to collect material for polemical pur- 
poses, and betray the insufficiency of their acquaintance and their departure 
from the scientific spirit by the characteristics of their writing. It is solely 
the last class to which I refer in the text. 

*Psyche for April, 1923, pp. 298-316. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 187 

traits in the printed output of fifteen prominent writers, under the 
title "The Enchanted Boundary." I am fairly familiar with the 
literature on this subject of the last 45 years, and have been searching 
in vain for a case where a hostile spear, however effective outside, did 
not turn to a reed when it crossed the border of this region of inquiry, 
and where this cannot easily be shown. No rejoinder came from one 
of my fifteen subjects of demonstration, because the facts were ir- 
refutable when once pointed out. One could recite instances for 
hours; how opposers of psychical research pick out for attack in- 
cidents which the original reporters for honesty's sake did not omit 
but expressly stated were not evidential, while carefully avoiding the 
real evidence; how they mutilate and do malpractice on records they 
profess to summarize; how they ludicrously misconceive and misstate 
the problems and opinions of those whom they criticise ; how in juve- 
nile awe of scientific assumptions which are continually altering and 
enlarging they undertake to demolish facts by dogmatic pronuncia- 
mentos ; how they boast of their unwillingness to get first hand knowl- 
edge by patient experiment, and betray their lack of acquaintance 
with the works of those who have done so by childish blunders of fact 
(I counted six in one short paragraph) ; how they sweep away hosts 
of authenticated actual cases by one oracular dictum as intelligent as 
that of the farmer who when he saw a giraffe said "There ain't no 
such animal;" how they betray emotional repulsion as in the case of 
the psychologist of whom Dr. Hyslop said that if he was so actuated 
he ought to join the Salvation Army. 

Even Huxley lapsed from his logical rectitude when he said that 
the only good of a demonstration of "Spiritualism" was to furnish an 
argument against suicide. If he had heard some one in or out of 
Texas say that the only good of a demonstration that men are bio- 
logically related to apes is to furnish an argument for suicide, I can 
imagine his acid retort that facts do not pay heed to emotional re- 
pulsions. I myself have a decided prejudice against biting and sting- 
ing insects, and my feelings declare that my world shall not contain 
them, but now and then in my travels I am painfully reminded that 
it nevertheless does. Suppose it proved that all subconscious twaddle 
of a medium comes from Heaven and that the indications are that we 
all become idiotic when we reach that region, still facts would be 
facts, whether blissful or otherwise. 

Think of Dr. Hyslop, who had his human subjects for experiment 
introduced after the psychic was in trance, had them sit behind her 



188 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

and keep silent, reported every word, and even every time the pencil 
fell from the writing medium's hand, then think that a Doctor of 
Philosophy attempted to demolish him in a book which mutilated, 
distorted and misrepresented every incident which she professed to 
quote, without exception, and finally think that an eminent educator, 
not without interest to Clark University, was so unguarded in this 
field that in its preface he expressed the hope that the now forgotten 
book would prove to be "the turn of the tide!" 

12. Or take my own case as that of one convinced of several types 
of supernormal phenomena, and supremely unconvinced of certain 
other claims. Put me under the microscope as the bug some people 
think I am. Reputed to be excessively cautious, and regarded by 
the Spiritualistic religious cult as a hard hearted skeptic; formerly 
thoroughly skeptical all along this line; always occupied during a 
curiously varied career, from the boyhood days when no mechanical 
or other puzzle was ever given up unsolved, in the analysis and reso- 
lution of one kind of a problem or another, in history, sociology, ab- 
normal psychology, etc., up to Psychical Research; one to whom ac- 
curacy is a religion and minute analysis an obsession so that it is an 
agony to terminate the testing process and write a report ; intolerably 
detailed in reporting and in presenting the subject in hand at every 
possible angle ; alive by experience and study to the various pitfalls of 
illusion, delusion and deception all this has made me a kind of a 
scrutinizing, analyzing and rationalizing monster, quite unpleasant to 
the tender-minded. For years I have been inviting any man in the 
world to face squarely such affirmative reports as I have been willing 
to make, and to discuss them fairly ; to point out precautionary meas- 
ures overlooked, serious flaws in scientific method and weaknesses in 
reasoning. Few have made any appearance of opposition, none has 
more than entered mere formal a priori objections or uttered a few 
oracular and evasive generalities. 

Is this boasting? Not at all, the very point is that if so humble 
and plodding a student as myself, whose main intellectual merit leans 
to the side of a failing that of being scared to death of being caught 
in an error can present his facts in such a way that no one seriously 
attempts to refute them, how strong must be the case for Psychical 
Research! For years I have tried to find a man who would take 
any one of a number of reported cases in Psychic Research which 
I will name, and make a critical attack upon it as a whole, show that 
any of the necessary precautions were lacking, that the method of in- 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 189 

vestigation was scientifically defective, that the reasoning from it 
was not sound. No one has done so, though one professor of psy- 
chology, at once my friend and my forensic opponent, is notably vol- 
uble on the subject. Several declared that they could do it. One 
promised that he would do it and was furnished with all the materials 
which after four years he has yet. I predict that on his death bed he 
will murmur: "I could have done it if I only had had time." 

By the way, I think that my friend, the voluble professor of psy- 
chology, may have the Saul of Tarsus complex. You remember that 
Saul, knowing nothing in particular against the Christians, imagined 
that they were a bad lot, and having no official functions which re- 
quired him to persecute them, went out of his way to obtain an of- 
ficial license to do so. We know he had listened to Stephen at the 
time of that martyr's execution, and it well may be that he became 
half convinced that the Christians were right. He verily thought, as 
he tells us, that he was doing God service by harrying them, and yet 
all the time it was probably a subconsciously initiated psychological 
defense against his own heretical tendencies. There is nothing in my 
friend the Professor's official functions which calls upon him to tour 
the country and enrich the magazines with his attacks upon psychical 
research, within which his revelations of knowledge are not very pro- 
found. Have certain facts like winged arrows pierced the joints of 
his armor, and is he, actuated by the Saul of Tarsus complex, fight- 
ing for the preservation of his own academic orthodoxy? It is an in- 
teresting psychological question. 

13. Even rational men, unable to cope with facts against which 
they have an emotional complex, frequently react irrationally, set up 
an illusory dogma and cling to it as a pillar of safety. So we hear 
that psychic or supernormal facts are "impossible" by the "logic of 
science," are contrary to the laws of nature, and destructive to the 
principles of the universe. Psychologists, much more than physicists 
and biologists, are apt to cherish the delusion that science has reached 
the point where it can perfectly delimit between the possible and the 
impossible, that its principles and final concepts have been perfectly 
and fully ascertained. Science has been in our own time a changing 
panorama, continually enlarging the circle to introduce facts former- 
ly regarded impossible, tearing down old and erecting new theories 
and altering some of its very foundation principles. fWas it not Lord 
Kelvin who said that hypnotism was half fraud and half mal-observa- 
tion ? t Certainly it was denounced by many eminent men as gross 



190 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

humbug. Edison's electric light was declared by several scientists, 
when the newspapers first reported it, impossible. The phonograph 
was impossible. The flight of heavy air machines was impossible. 
So the catalogue could be extended indefinitely. Hence Von Helm- 
holz's dictum to Sir William Barrett was not quite final, great a 
scientist as he was : "Neither the testimony of all the Fellows of the 
Royal Society, nor even the evidence of my own senses, could lead me 
to believe in the transmission of thought from one person to another 
independently of the recognized channels of sensation. It is clearly 
impossible." As "impossible" is a word which admits of no com- 
parative degree it follows that since some "impossible" things have 
nevertheless been found true, others probably will be. And thus far 
the universe has not suffered from the establishment of "impossible" 
facts. 

But, more than this, the formulas, the theories, some of the very 
so-called laws relating to the origin and constitution of, and relations 
existing between material things have changed. As Will Durant has 
lately said 4 : "To what distant War has our famous nebular hypo- 
thesis flown ? . . . Where are the laws of the great Newton now, when 
Einstein and Moskowski and other disreputable foreigners have up- 
set the universe with their unintelligible relativity? Where is the 
indestructibility of matter and the conservation of energy in the 
chaos and dispute of contemporary physics . . . Where is Gregor Men- 
del now that 'unit characters' are in bad odor with geneticists ?" And 
again, such queries could be extended. Nor do they breathe contempt 
for science, whose noble building grows in solidity and grandeur, 
albeit it undergoes many alterations, some of them so radical as to 
change its appearance and parts of its very structure. It is only when 
a scientist becomes a philosopher, and adopts the philosophical theory 
of mono-materialism, that psychic facts seem impossible in the scheme 
of things. Let these facts reach to the indisputable stage and the 
scientists' philosophy of the universe will alter to include them, and 
they will composedly smile at the perturbations of their predecessors. 

14. But is it not a fact that the field of Psychic Research extends 
back through centuries of gross and silly superstitions? Superstitions 
are often wrong interpretations of facts. But there certainly is very 
much of superstition in the sense of irrational and unfounded occult 
beliefs and practices perceptible in our glimpses of ancient times, and 



'Harper's Magazine, December, 1926. 



JS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 191 

amongst cultured peoples of the present age. Think of the fact that 
some newspapers still print daily "horoscopes," although no scientific 
investigator in the world credits the absurdities of astrology! And 
of the host of generally intelligent people who have respect for the 
theory that human destiny is portrayed by the lines that folds of flesh 
happen to make in the palm of the hand! Or for that moronic su- 
perstition called numerology, or for a machine which will determine 
from your autograph whether you have a cancer or the chickenpox 
and what was the religious belief of your father ! But other sciences 
also have had their history and have today their disreputablelB^np fol- 
lowing of superstition. Chemistry was largely born out ofalchemy, 
and astronomy out of astrology. Shall we flout the science and art 
of medicine for the hot bed of superstition in which it was nurtured 
and for the queer theories which accompanied its main current of 
progress, as well as for the grotesque doctrines and practices which 
hang to its skirts still ? Is the hypnotism of today to be twitted with 
Mesmer the charlatan? So Psychic Research is not so very lonely. 
It is a science, later to develop, like the others, order and discrimina- 
tion in the midst of chaotic and heterogeneous materials. 

15. Next a question, supposed to be quite deadly, is put: "Have 
not psychical researchers, even scientists among them, been fooled by 
phenomena which turned out to be illusive?" Certainly, some have 
blundered in certain cases. Has it not been so elsewhere ? So Bastian, 
a scientist, claimed to have produced living creatures in hermetically 
sealed jars devoid of life, and wrote a book about it which Tyndall 
refuted, but biology remains a science. The geologist Beringer was 
fooled into accepting as genuine fossils, weird manufactures by wag- 
gish students, and published a monograph on them, but geology still 
survives. Charcot fooled himself into thinking that hypnosis always 
proceeds by three described stages; his observations were deceptive 
but hypnotism is yet a fact. 

Now and then a scientific man, a psychologist, or whatnot, gets 
logically impressed by a case where the conditions are both as fully 
under his control and as adequate for judgment as those of a labora- 
tory, probably a case of mental character. Then, in his newly- 
awakened interest he attends a sitting of so-called "physical phen- 
omena," where the conditions are mostly prescribed for him on the 
basis of alleged "psychic laws" which correspond closely to the pre- 
cautions necessary to make difficult the detection of fraud, where in 
short everything is almost the precise opposite to his familiar labora- 



192 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

tory. In darkness or near darkness, his hands probably held, listen- 
ing to the suggestions around him (and even college professors and 
laboratory experts are human), knowing little of the great area of 
conjuring possibilities under such conditions, and in some cases feel- 
ing a knightly unwillingness that an appealing medium shall be less 
innocent than she looks under these conditions, when things occur 
quite outside of his familiar experiences, he sometimes becomes, as 
Samson did when his hair was cut, "like any other man," and goes 
forth to give his favorable opinion, though it be counter to that of 
investigators of twenty times his experience. These tragedies will 
become less and less in number with the passage of time, as in other 
branches of research equally blundering conclusions are already less 
frequent. 

16. "But," again it is urged, "Psychical Researchers do not agree 
in their theories to account for the facts. A particular class of facts 
is accounted for by some on the basis of spiritism, by others on that 
of telepathy, while 'cryptesthesia' whatever that is is the watch- 
word of another, and we even hear of the Cosmic Mind as the ex- 
planation. How can we be expected to pay attention to your alleged 
facts until you come to some agreement in the interpretation of them?" 
If such a demand had been enforced by the thinking world upon 
other sciences, there would be little science today. Look at the past 
history of every science and see the record of conflicts of opinion, and 
the skeletons of perished theories which line the road. Does chemistry 
still explain combustion on the theory of phlogiston? Does catastro- 
phism play the part in geology that it once did ? Review the long war 
of theories in medical science, and glance at the grotesque therapies 
which still appeal to public credulity. Psychical Research is almost 
the youngest branch of scientific exploration, and of course there 
are differing theories. This is the very sign that it is alive and that 
opposing schools agree on a large basis of facts, although not yet on 
all classes of alleged facts. 

It is not a century since psychology was nothing more than a theo- 
retical discussion of the three formal categories of the "soul", in- 
tellect, sensibility and will. It is not fifty years since William James 
said that he did not see that it had any practical use. It has enor- 
mously developed, various methods hitherto undreamed of have been 
applied to its investigation, and it is of use in various ways for vari- 
ous practical ends. But is there unity of theory ; do all psychologists 
agree in interpretation? I need only to mention the psychology of 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 193 

James, or of McDougall on the one side and of that obstreperous 
young scoffer Behaviorism on the other, or Freudism and Anti-Freud- 
ism. Wundt at one period held that psychology is merely a branch 
of physiology, and later reversed his position, lamenting the wild 
oats of his youth, but he remained a pioneer of psychological method. 
No general test should be applied to Psychical Research, in order to 
ascertain its validity, which would not be regarded as equally sig- 
nificant if applied to other branches of science. 

17, But was not Podmore a keen and indefatigable psychical re- 
searcher, and did he not combat the spiritistic theory? Only pausing 
to remark that there is much in psychical research besides spiritism, 
I answer that he did, but did so by urging, with extreme ingenuity 
and multiplied minor assumptions, the claims of telepathy. That is, 
he combated one theory of supernormal character by another. It must 
not be forgotten that telepathy if it exists is a supernormal fact, that 
is, it is not within the present "logic" of the science most commonly 
accepted, it means that thought passes from one person to another by 
some process unknown and other than the recognized channels of the 
senses. The opponent of the authenticated facts of mediumship is 
between the devil and the deep sea, either he must resort to telepathy, 
usually abhorrent because fatal to his materialistic philosophy, or he 
must pretend that the evidence does not exist, and, covering his eyes, 
"thob" for the safety of his hypothetical soul formulas and shibboleths 
about the "logic" and the "laws" of science, "animistic tendencies" 
and the "will to believe." Dr. George M. Beard was frank when 
he wrote that to face the evidence appeared to be so deadly that "for 
logical, well-trained, truth-loving minds, the only security against 
spiritism is hiding or running away." Incredible as it may seem, 
these are the actual words printed by an opponent of psychical re- 
search. 

18. Do psychical researchers all agree that any types of phe- 
nomena are supernormal? If I may be allowed to define a psychical 
researcher as a person of evident intelligence and cultivation, whose 
writings reveal acquaintance with and employment of critical method, 
who has had much experience in this field, and who is interested in 
the fixation of facts and not in propaganda, religious or other, I 
answer in the affirmative, and will name four types upon which I 
think that there is practically unanimous agreement, nor is the list 
necessarily exhaustive. 

(1) Telepathy is generally agreed to by psychical researchers, on 



194 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

the basis of numerous experimental series, and on spontaneous cases 
of extraordinary character. One instance of the latter class is the 
fact that the naturalist John Muir, not having seen his friend Profes- 
sor Butler for years, nor having heard from him for a month, in a 
letter which contained no hint that he thought of going to California, 
was impressed, while high up on a plateau of the Yosemite Valley, 
by the feeling that he must go down and find his friend, descended 
thousands of feet and found Butler lost and about to be benighted 
among the rocks. The facts were testified to by both gentlemen. 
Several incidents almost as remarkable occurred in my relations with 
a single person. 

(2) Veridical (truth-telling) Apparitions. The English Society 
gathered a large list of cases, from which it eliminated all but the 
most thoroughly authenticated, then applied the mathematical method 
with the result that some of the most critical minds in England were 
convinced that a relation, other than chance, exists between the see- 
ing of such apparitions and the deaths of the persons whom they rep- 
resent. I think there is practical agreement that not only apparitions 
but other sensory hallucinations too frequently coincide in time and 
in relevancy to emotional events happening at a distance, to be with- 
out any causal nexus. 

(3) Mediumistic deliverances. There is agreement that experi- 
ments by stranger sitters under scientific management, with more 
precautions than opponents have ever thought to suggest, and with 
absolutely complete record of every word by anyone in the room, 
have produced series of facts pertinent to sitters, and proveably un- 
known to the medium, far, sometimes millions of times, beyond the 
probabilities of chance. Such instances can be exhibited convincingly 
only in their totality, but I may mention one detached incident. Just 
following a purported communication from my wife, the medium 
automatically wrote that I had had a cat with a long, queer name, 
a name with historical associations, a name from the Greek. Only 
midway of this description did there come to my memory the name 
of the last cat I had owned, thirty years ago. Afterwards, without 
one word of assistance from me, a"s the stenographic record shows, 
she correctly gave the name Mephistopheles. Chance? But as a 
part of this same incident another name was written, and that was 
the name of the last and only dog I had ever owned aside from one 
now in the family. Still chance? Probably no person in the world, 
before my wife's recent death, but she and myself, would remember 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 195 

that odd name for a cat, certainly none within 250 miles. No living 
person but myself and my daughter knew the dog's name, or if con- 
ceivable that one person remembers the creature that died ten years 
ago, after we had owned it a week, that person lives three thousand 
miles away in the opposite direction from the long-ago abode of 
the cat. 

(4) Psychometry. This is the unfortunate name of the phe- 
nomenon, confined to an exceedingly small number of persons, of 
being able to recite during contact with a strange object a series of 
facts true of a person connected with the object, facts not inferrible 
from the object itself. I discovered one remarkable psychic of this 
kind, a person in private life who had never been so experimented 
upon. The results were immediate and astounding, case after case, 
and they have been reported in detail, without other response than a 
few oracular remarks about "the logic of science," "impossibility" 
and my "will to believe." She got impressive results in about half 
out of a dozen tests made before she joined a church which stopped 
experimentation, and the evidential weight of one of the successes 
was so enormous that a hundred following failures would have af- 
fected it very little. These were the conditions: broad daylight, a 
letter (for example) folded so that no writing appeared without, and 
held immoveably between the palms, every word uttered by the psy- 
chic and myself taken down, the letter itself taken from an old file 
without my glancing at it, though I knew who wrote it. And these 
were the results: thirty-seven statements belonging to three classes 
in order, (1) description of physical appearance and other character- 
istics of a man, (2) references to a journey and to two cities, one by 
name and one by its peculiar description, (3) a minute description 
of a church and its surroundings. The author of the letter was 
a clergyman in a city hundreds of miles from the psychic. Three 
of the statements impossible to verify or deny were set aside. One 
of the remaining 34 was only partly correct, and all the rest were 
literally correct regarding the writer, a journey he had made just 
before writing the letter, and the church of which he was pastor. 
One of the leading mathematicians in the country, Alan S. Hawkes- 
worth, F. R. S. A., inclined somewhat to disfavor psychical research, 
passed upon the chance likelihood of each of the 34 items. I did the 
same and my estimate proved to be more conservative than his. On 
the basis of mine, therefore, he calculated the likelihood of obtaining 
all the 34 ascertained items by mere guess. He found it to be about 



196 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

1 in 5,000,000,000,000,000. Do you imagine that the psychic read 
the letter in spite of my vigilance? Very little that she stated would 
have been revealed even could she have done so. 

I have not time to mention other agreements among psychical re- 
searchers, or Vo go to the other end of the spectrum and detail the 
alleged phenomena, such as "spirit slate-writing" which nearly all 
psychical researchers as I have defined them regard as always spurious, 
and "spirit photographs" which all cautious investigators regard 
as dubious. 

In general I may say that the greater certainty and unanimity has 
been attained in the field of mental than that of physical phenomena, 
unless we except certain supernormal sounds, especially raps, some 
of which at least appear to be physically initiated. In other words, 
the simpler and more open the conditions, the more it is a matter 
of experienced common-sense and logic, the more certitude. Some 
apparently very cautious observers have been convinced of movements 
of objects without contact, but probably no one can be quite con- 
vinced short of opportunities for personal observation. Many scien- 
tific men on the continent of Europe, some of whom had no previous 
predelictions in favor of such things, have been convinced of ecto- 
plasm. I have never seen any exhibition, or heard any careful de- 
scription, of it on this side of the water, which was in the least con- 
vincing to me, nor did Drs. Hodgson and Hyslop ever discover any 
impressive samples. Whether there is a genuine product of that name 
peculiar to the other side of the water or, lacking the long experience 
in fakery we have had here, European scientists have been deceived 
under conditions favorable to deception, I will not undertake to de- 
cide. 

19. Amateur acceptance and non-acceptance in this field is often 
delightfully naive. There is only one thing that we can predict in 
the case of the "hard-headed business man," and that is that he will 
never read through one of our elaborate reports, nor listen to reason 
on the subject. What impresses students will probably make no dent 
on him, but he may say "Here was something that was certainly 
genuine," and relate the wonders of a platform code-"telepathist" or 
of "billet-switching" conjuror. And I, who was a clergyman, may 
be permitted to say that what clergymen will do only God can pre- 
dict, for some of them, after remaining prudent in the face of masses 
of scientific evidence, fall easy victims to ingenious fakery protected 
by darkness. One of the most learned clergymen that Boston ever 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WORTH WHILE 197 

boasted, who during successive seasons discussed science in his Monday 
lectures, in an hour of weakness was beguiled by a slate-writing con- 
juror, and wrote a statement witnessing to the passage of matter 
through matter. 

Since the last sentence was written, I learn that two colleges and 
a theological seminary, none of which, in all probability, ever invited 
a Hodgson or a Hyslop to speak, are about to open their doors for 
the glorification by one of its principles, of a case, which has been con- 
demned by three official and accepted commissions which have re- 
ported on it, and found highly suspicious by the fourth. My lords 
and ladies, it is a singular world. 

On the other hand, acceptance of the usual "explanation" exhibited 
in public is about equally naive. I have seen a moving picture demon- 
strate the methods of fraudulent mediums, which amused me more 
than a comedy, for, while there are fraudulent mediums enough, 
probably none of them ever used the means shown since the world 
began. I have seen at least two magicians demonstrate how things 
are done, and both of them were mainly faking the fakers. One of 
them, the most illustrious of all, whom I numbered among my friends, 
told me publicly that magicians can make raps like those I studied 
in my house. I responded, "No doubt you could rig up a 'gimick' 
to produce the raps in my house, but give me the same liberty of ex- 
amination that I exercised for months, and I will discover it within 
two hours, if not five minutes. If you think otherwise, I invite you 
to come over and try it out." He didn't come. I likewise invite any 
magician living to fake psychometry by guess and shrewd inference 
and in one of fifty trials give me, with all his boasted arts, a result 
comparable with those published by me, and achieved by a simple 
unprofessional woman. 

20. Finally it is well to mention some of the by-products of psy- 
chical research, as they should be taken into account in the effort to 
ascertain if it is worth while. Here I can do no better than to borrow 
from the remarks of Mr. H. Addington Bruce. 5 "It is safe to say 
that no scientific movement ever set on foot has, in the same length 
of time, contributed so much toward the advancement of knowledge 
as psychical research." Granting great credit to Wundt and his 
disciples for the marvellous development of psychology after 1885, 
very largely the stimulus was derived from "those 'dabblers in the 



^Unpopular Review, Oct.-Dec., 1914. 



198 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

occult/ who like Sidgwick, Myers and Gurney in England, and Janet 
and Richet in France, thought it not beneath their dignity to study 
table-tipping, alleged telepathy, and the disputed phenomena of the 
hypnotic trance. To them, incontrovertibly, we owe the foundation- 
laying of abnormal psychology, with its manifold implications." Hyp- 
notism had not ceased to be an * 'occult" subject when the psychical 
researchers Janet and Gurney did much to lay the foundations of its 
use both for the study of the human mind and for therapy. 

Dr. Morton Prince, and probably others who have become prom- 
inent in mental therapeutics, was directly inspired to specialize there- 
in by the pioneer work done by Edmund Gurney, psychical research- 
er. And there have been fresh springs; for example, the Emmanuel 
method of mental therepeutics, which has had a large and, when its 
principles have been adhered to, salutary influence, originated with 
Dr. Elwood Worcester, a psychical researcher. 

Psychical researchers such as Janet, Gurney and Myers, and Hys- 
lop and others since have done much to explore and enlarge the 
boundaries of the subconscious mind. Myers is the man who in- 
vented the term "subliminal". 

Psychical researchers contributed the oft-quoted Ansel Bourne 
Case of dual personality, the Brewin Case, the Heinrich Myers Case, 
and the mammoth Doris Case of Multiple Personality to the literature 
of abnormal psychology. 

And psychical researchers have accomplished these things and 
more because, from Myers to William James and from James to 
Hyslop and the present, they disdained not to handle what others 
thrust aside with contempt, because like anatomists, they searched 
down to the very entrails of human experience, and because, after 
they had observed and tested and verified and studied, with unflinch- 
ing honesty they declared the facts which they had found. 

Boston Society for Psychic Research, 
346 Beacon Street, 
Boston, Massachusetts. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASEt 



BY WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 



Margery the Medium. By J. MALCOLM BIRD. New York, Small, 
Maynard and Co., 1925, pp. 518. Referred to hereinafter as M.M. 

Margery-Harvard-Veritas: A Study in Psychics. ANONYMOUS; 
issued by M. W. Richardson, C. S. Hill, A. W. Martin, S. R. Har- 
low, J. DeWyckoff, and L. R. G. Crandon. Privately printed; 
copies can be obtained from Dr. L. R. G. Crandon, 366 Common- 
wealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 1925, pp. 109. Referred to hereinafter 
as M.H.V. 

Articles in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Re- 
search, vol. 19, 1925 (referred to hereinafter as J.A.S.P.R.), in 
Scientific American, 1924-25 (referred to hereinafter as S.A.), etc. 

In May, 1923, 1 there blazed out the most brilliant star in the fir- 
mament of alleged physical mediumship that America has seen in fifty 
years, 'Margery,' the wife of Dr. L. R. G. Crandon, a Boston sur- 
geon. At hundreds of sittings, 2 it is claimed, 'ectoplasmic 1 limbs ex- 
truded from her body and afterward reabsorbed have performed 
various acts, such as touching persons seated nearby in the darkness, 
shoving, lifting and throwing objects, overturning a small table, ring- 
ing the bell in a box activated by a contact cover, producing phos- 
phorescent lights, etc. 8 The establishment of these claims would 
have profound interest for science, since they imply the exercise of en- 
ergy in a manner at present unknown to physics, and modifications of 
the human body revolutionary of present physiology. If it be a fact 
that the vocal and whispered utterances and the whistling sounds 
which are so frequent an accompaniment are 'independent/ that is, not 
produced by the vocal organs of any living person, and yet requiring 
the presence of a peculiarly-constituted person, the fact has deep sig- 
nificance for physics, psychology, and physiology. Also the appearance 
of live pigeons and flowers, either by special creation or by passage 
through matter, if factually established, would considerably enlarge 



fReprinted by permission from the American Journal of Psychology. 

W.M., 13. 

*M.M. gives more or less details of upwards of 260 sittings (see table, 486- 
499) up to Dec. 27, 1924. 

'For the period before Dingwall's coming, M.M. gives the fullest description 
of phenomena from its author's point of view; for the meagre but best 
printed account of the sittings in the period presided over by Mr. Dingwall, 
see his address printed in J.A.S.P.R., 1925, 125-134; and for the period of the 
Harvard Group consult the report of its spokesman, Mr. Hudson Hoagland, 
Atlantic Monthly, 1925, 666-681; also the sitting-notes printed (with important 
omissions) in M.H.V. 



200 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

the domain of either biology or physics. 4 Many other phenomena are 
alleged, and they all purport to be manifestations of a spirit, always 
or nearly always 'Walter, 1 mainly exercised by the materialization of 
organs and limbs for the purpose. 

The literature of the case has been extensive, as the following in- 
complete table, confined to this country, shows. 

( 1 ) Hundreds of newspaper articles, including many specially 
prepared by the inner circle, assailing investigators who have reported 
adversely. 

(2) Many favoring articles in Spiritualist and even some other re- 
ligious organs. 

(3) Articles of essential advocacy by Mr. J. M. Bird in the 
Scientific American* the verdicts of its Committee members, 6 an ar- 
ticle by Dr. Crandon attacking the "preliminary" verdict, 7 and an 
answer claiming to point out his divergences from fact. 8 

(4) A pamphlet by Mr. Harry Houdini, claiming to demonstrate 
fraud by 'Margery.' 9 

(5) A book, Margery the Medium of 518 pages by Mr. Bird, in 
defense of her phenomena. 

(6) A report of the Harvard investigation, by Mr. Hudson 
Hoagland, in the Atlantic Monthly. 

(7) Seventeen statements, discussions and letters relating to the 
case in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 
March-December, 1925. Of these 6 were by Bird (made a research 
officer of the A.S.P.R. following the announcement of his conversion), 
3 by Dr. Crandon, 2 by his personal friend; three times the material 
in favor that there was against, and everything against carefully an- 
swered by Mr. Bird or Dr. Crandon. 10 The record shows that fuller 
details of the Harvard findings were refused although the Atlantic 
Monthly report was assailed by Bird, and that proof offered from out- 
side the group that he had distorted the facts failed to interest the 
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. 1 * 

(8) Lately the Crandon group has gratuitously distributed an an- 
onymous pamphlet of 109 pages, entitled Margery-Harvard-Veritas. 12 

The Research Officer of the A.S.P.R. has advocated Margery be- 
fore many Spiritualist and general audiences, and Dr. Crandon and 
others have similarly proclaimed her genuineness. I know of no plat- 
form propaganda in opposition, aside from the diatribes of Houdini. 

'Chapters XVIII and XX of MM. give the details regarding the pigeon 
and the flowers. The phenomena of 'apports' seem to have disappeared from 
the case before any decisive teats were applied. 

S.A., July and Aug., 1924. *S. A., Nov. 1924, Apr. 1925. 'S.A., Jan. 1925. 

*S.A., Feb. 1925. 

9 Houdini exposes the tricks used by the Boston medium 'Margery/ 1924,. 
PP- 32. 

10 Sec file of J.A.S.P.R. 

"Both letters of declination and the manuscript of the proffered reply are 
on file in my office. Bird's article is reproduced in M.H.V., 83-93. I find it 
impossible to square many of its statements with the evidence. 

*M.H.V. in these notes. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 201 

It is time that an outline history and critique of the case should be 
written. This I am attempting on the sole basis of a great mass of 
printed and manuscript documents. I abstain from mentioning any 
of the unpublished observations of the phenomena by myself, not 
acting as a witness or an attorney, but strictly as a reviewer. 

I. The First 'Year of the Phenomena. About two-fifths of the 
518 pages comprising M.M. are devoted to the 133 sittings from 
May 1923 to April 1924, the materials having been furnished by Dr. 
Crandon. 13 But as the author tells us that "no record was made of 
the arrangement of the sitters or the degree of control" at the first 63 
sittings, and that such vital information only "sometimes appears in- 
cidentally or otherwise" in connection with the 70 which followed, 14 
this part of the compilation can hardly impress the scientific reader, 
however convincing sittings may have been to persons present. Hope 
quite abandons such a reader when he finds the records mostly chopped 
into bits, classified and reassembled for dramatic effect under such 
titles as "The Gobble-Uns'li Git You Ef You Don't Watch Out," 
and "Ghostly Fingers in the Dark." 15 The anecdotes are liberally 
sprinkled with the compiler's subtle and somewhat oracular remarks. 

II. The Scientific American Investigation. The Committee formed 
by the Scientific American to study cases brought to its attention con- 
sisted of Dr. Wm. McDougall, Harvard psychologist, then president 
of the American Society for Psychical Research ; Dr. D. F. Comstock, 
formerly professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in- 
terested in psychical research; Mr. H. Carrington, author of books 
dealing with psychical research ; Dr. W. F. Prince, then research of- 
ficer of the A.S.P.R. ; and Mr. H. Houdini, magician. Mr. Bird be- 
came, not by action of the committee, secretary to the committee and, 
as he says, "stage manager." 16 In the latter capacity he was chiefly 
responsible for procedure, the strict function of committee members 
being to act as judges. That bane of scientific research premature 
publicity was precipitated in spite of protests from the committee. 
Never was an investigation more hampered, both at this and subse- 
quent stages, by prohibitions and arbitrary rules. 

( 1 ) An investigator ought to be able to see, at least in some kind 
of light. But the darkness was relieved by red light, more or less, 
only when 'Walter' gave the signal, 17 reminding one of the magician 
who withdraws the curtain after a wonder is prepared behind it. 
Darkness may be required by a 'psychic law/ but it is also convenient 
for hoaxing. 

"M.M., viii. 

14 M.Af ., 4S6, 489. 

"Sometimes scraps of a sitting arc scattered through seven chanters. See 
table, MM., 489-491. 

16 Mr. Bird in Banner of Life, Aug. 8, 1925. See also M.M. f 151. 

""For fear of injury to the medium no lights shall be turned on at any time 
without permission of 'Walter'." Draft of rules written by Dr. Crandon, 
dated Aug. 4, 1924. But Dr. Crandon could turn on white light in the midst 
of phenomena, with impunity. See MM., 139. 



202 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

(2) It ought to be possible to make reasonable use of those im- 
portant instruments of investigation, the hands. But hands were 
held fast except momentarily under strict regulations. The 'ecto- 
plasmic limb* may shove, lift and throw objects, slap sitters and pull 
their hair, and even overturn the table or rip away the wing of the 
cabinet, but the slightest touch laid upon it unbidden, it is explained, 
might fearfully shock the medium. This seems unreasonable and yet 
investigators obeyed the inscrutable law. 

(3) Investigators ought to be permitted cautiously to test how far 
alleged laws are actually valid. An investigator on one occasion ven- 
tured to move his own and the psychic's hands slowly into the area 
between her and the bell-box, and no objection being made continued 
to do so. 18 Since the bell rang nevertheless, the law against this 
founded on the theory of 'psychic rods' seemed disproved, yet after-ex- 
perimentation of the kind was forbidden. If in his one daylight sit- 
ting the two momentary muffled tinkles really came from the box and 
not from beneath the medium's skirts five inches distant, the important 
discovery was made that the box-bell could be rung under the most 
favorable conditions. 19 She was uninjured and fresh enough to have 
another sitting that very night, and four more within a week, 20 but 
he never could get another daylight sitting. 

(4) Scientific investigators are supposed to plan the nature, par- 
ticular time and duration of their tests. But here 'Walter' autocrat- 
ically directed, consenting or refusing, unexpectedly switching phe- 
nomena or terminating a series of a particular type before the hiatus in 
the proof was filled. 21 

(5) Besides the above traditional ritual restrictive of scientific 
liberty, the following rules were invented, constituting, whether or 
not so intended, an effective device to hamper investigators consent- 
ing to be so bound, and to embarrass them after an unfavorable verdict. 

(a) Every member must sign a blanket report composed of in- 
dividual observations dictated during the sitting by different members, 
without a proviso that he is responsible only for his own observations 
and descriptive terms. The member who declined to assume respon- 
sibility for any errors other than his own has since been voluminously 
berated for not subscribing to the individual observations of his col- 
leagues since they were colleagues, 22 yet the members have been as 
vigorously scolded for not repudiating the observations of Houdini, 
also a colleague. 23 

(b) Another rule, not set forth to any of the investigating com- 



9. 

"Margery's version in MM., 471-473 ; Prince's statement in S.A., Feb. and 
Apr. l92S,Banner of Life, Nov. 28, 1925; Dr. Crandon's version in M.H.V., 15. 

"M.M., 498. 

S1 M.M., 26. 161-162, 165, 224, 357, 400. 

*M.Af., 446; M.H.V., 9; S.A., Jan., 1925, 65; filed letters by Dr. Crandon. 

"Psychic Science, July, 1925, 127; S.A., Jan., 1925; Banner of Life, Oct. 19 
and 31, 1925. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 203 

missions, seems to have been in Dr. Crandon's mind. Every particular 
word or expression dictated during the sittings, no matter how em- 
pirical and tentative such necessarily were, especially during the first 
stages of an investigation, no matter what accidental infelicities of 
extemporaneous language might have entered, no matter how later 
discoveries negatived earlier deceptive impressions, must be held 
sacred forever. There can be no other point in italicising passages of 
the sitting notes printed in M.H.V. 

(c) Everything deemed important must appear in the contem- 
poraneous record, 24 the corollary being that nothing not there appear- 
ing can ever afterward be deemed important. A more paralyzing rule 
could not be devised. Frequently facts which at the time seem un- 
important and which are clearly remembered by several persons after- 
ward are found to be very important, fitting into the now apparent 
mosaic. Dr. Crandon and his spokesmen frequently disregarded the 
absurd rule which they would impose upon others. 25 

(d) The dictated words "control perfect" and the like, shall im- 
ply that the possibility of fraud is eliminated, 26 yet thousands have er- 
roneously supposed themselves successfully controlling a medium's 
movements, and the most intelligent may be deceived for a time. A 
rule to make a blunder sacred forever or to convict an investigator for 
becoming wiser is an oddity. 

(e) Any observed indication of fraud must be announced immedi- 
ately. 27 This rule would have the effect of coaching a fraudulent 
medium and preventing the development of fraud to the point of proof. 
Houdini's compliance with the rule and the consequent wrangle have 
been denounced, 28 and so has Hoagland's delaying the announcement 
until the sitting was over. 29 

, (f ) At one sitting the investigators allowed Dr. Crandon to dic- 
tate into the notes an expression which, as it then read, is rather of a 
truism: "Unless there is a suggestion of fraud in this record, IT IS 
assumed to be non-existent, in our opinion/' 30 But by altering this 
to "if no suspicion of fraud is entered in these notes, it SHALL BE 
deemed non-existent/' 31 there is made a law that an assumption based 



"Put in writing by Dr. Crandon, and on file. 

^For one example, see M.H.V., 12. Nothing is in the official notes about 
Houdini's passing his hand along the medium's arm in the box, though the 
fact is stated correctly; an "intelligible reason" for the act was given by 
Houdini at the time. Nor does the record say that Houdini measured the 
distance from psychic to bell-box at the beginning of the sitting, but it does 
say that he measured at its close. See also M.M., 434 

M Put in writing by Dr. Crandon, and on file. 

^Ibid.; "Any sitter believing that he observes fraud shall proclaim it at 
once." 

88 Houdini's pamphlet, 17 f.; Doyle in M.H.V., 9. 

"M.H.V., 23. 

""Sitting-notes, M.H.V., 43, caps and italics mine. 

n Dr. Crandon's version, M.H.V., 22, caps and italics mine. 



204 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCB 

upon the opinion of an hour shall perpetually have the force of a 
declaration of fact. 32 

(g) The husband of the medium must be one of her controllers. 
Exceedingly few of hundreds of sittings were exempt from this con- 
dition. 83 Such a situation is scientifically suspect and in view of the 
fact admitted in detail even by Bird, that Dr. Crandon's testimony 
as to continuity of control is unreliable, 34 it greatly increased the 
difficulty of ascertaining what took place in the darkness. 

The restrictions set forth in the above Sections 1 to 4 inclusive 
show why the majority of the first commission were not able abso- 
lutely to determine that no supernormal phenomena were displayed. 
In the nature of things the restrictions prevented the absolute deter- 
mination of fraud if fraud existed unless the rules were violated or 
revealing accidents occurred. 

It was by springing the many-toothed legalistic trap shown in Sec- 
tion 5, that an unreflecting or emotional share of the public have been 
persuaded that the first commission (as well as the two subsequent 
ones) was inconsistent and vacillating. It is mainly a contention as 
to words, yet, barring a few colloquial lapses in the notes, the incon- 
sistencies seem those which inevitably attend the progress from a 
state of mind unable to explain to one able to explain. 

Readers of M.M. should be warned to take its utterances with 
liberal grains of salt. Certainly many of them grossly misstate and 
warp facts of vital importance. A list of sixty selected examples with 
their refutations from inexpugnable data was offered for Dr. Cran- 
don and the author of the book to defend, without avail, except that 
the former wrote: "I can probably find more inaccuracies in Bird's 
book than you can." 35 Hence it is not here necessary to support 
the warning by citations. 

Yet some of the revelations in this book seem nai've. We learn 
from it and from other sources 36 that Dr. Crandon paid Messrs. 
Carrington and Bird their expenses for investigating his wife, and 
entertained the former in his house 44 days and nights and the latter 



the expressions extemporaneously employed by persons guessing in 
the darkness been thrice as incautious as they sometimes were, to hold 
them sacrosanct against all after discovery, reflection and analysis, is as 
intelligent as cabalism. 

M Dr. Crandon was beside Margery in 109 out of the 112 sittings of the 
Scientific American period whose sitting order was recorded; M.M. f 491-496. 

W M.M., 157-159, 256; Bird even states this was "usual." 

"It is proper to quote this sentence, since it is taken from a letter related 
to the one which Dr. Crandon in M.H.V., 19, opens to the public ("Dr. 
Prince declares in writing that he can make out an equally good circum- 
stantial case against Margery or Houdini," meaning if the matter of the 
rule in the box were taken by itself, disregarding the testimony of many 
persons, printed or on file, that they observed other indications of medium- 
istic fraud), and since he refers to another letter (making Prince back down 
when it was Dr. Crandon who wrote that he preferred "to let it drop"). 
The letters, as well as the "sixty examples," are on file and open to inspec- 
tion. 

M.M. f 155; M.H.F., 9. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 205 

57. "Houdini and Prince preferred to stop at a hotel." This prefer- 
ence was perhaps on the ground that it would be embarrassing to 
render a verdict against persons on whose bounty they had been liv- 
ing, and more embarrassing in the event of a favorable verdict to 
incur the imputation, if not the actual risk, that friendship and 
knightliness might affect their judgment. 

The verdicts of the Scientific American Committeemen were as 
follows, in brief: 37 

Dr. Comstock: "Rigid proof has not yet been furnished." 

Dr. McDougall: "As long ago as November, 1923, ... I was 
inclined to regard all the phenomena I had observed as produced by 
normal means. . . . Since that date ... the inclination described 
above has grown steadily stronger in the main, in spite of some minor 
fluctuations, and has now become well-nigh irresistible." 

Dr. Prince: "No sitting at which I was present was to me con- 
vincing. ... In fact, I could write a chapter of indications which, 
in the absence of contravening proof, seem to tell the story of normal 
and deceptive production." 

Mr. Houdini: "Everything which took place at the seances which 
I attended was a deliberate and conscious fraud." 

Mr. Carrington: "Many of the observed manifestations might 
well have been produced fraudulently and possibly were so pro- 
duced. . . . But I am convinced that genuine phenomena have oc- 
curred here.'* 

Mr. Bird, likewise convinced, and since the most voluble defender, 
was not a member of the committee. 38 He was, however, one of 
the two editors who had "worked out a plan," namely the formation 
of the Committee, to furnish "material which would have to be 
accepted as authoritative." These are his words. 39 

III. Mr. Dingwall's Investigation. Dr. Crandon arranged with 
Mr. Dingwall, Research Officer of the Society for Psychical Re- 
search, to come from London as a sort of appellate court. The great 
feature of this series, Dec., 1924, to Feb., 1925, was the production 
of "ectoplasm," sometimes like an ill-formed, cold hand feeling like 
"blanc-mange," and lying on the table or in the medium's lap, some- 
times a curious substance seen either issued from or poked into her 
ear. The substance was never seen in the process of actual material- 
ization. Unfortunately, Dingwall's hopes that the missing links of 
authentication would be supplied were disappointed, for in his report 
he says: 40 "The control of the medium appears to be rigid, and is 
faultless if we accept Dr. F. H. [Dr. Crandon] as a bona fide inves- 

**S.A., Nov., 1924; April, 1925. 

^Mr. Bird says he had no doubts of genuineness left after his 12th sit- 
ing (M.M., 438.). That was April 28, 1924 (M.M., 488ff.). Yet in S.A. of 
Aug., 1924, writing after he had been present at 22 more sittings, he had said: 
"Manifestations have not yet occurred in our presence under full test con- 
ditions." 

"Mf.Af,, 149. 

"J.A.S.P.R., June, 1925. 



206 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

tigator, which, under the circumstances, he is himself the first to 
admit is impossible. The conditions, therefore, of the sittings are 
such that I cannot at present affirm my belief in the authenticity of 
the phenomena." 

Dr. McDougall attended a number of these sittings, and there 
were indications which greatly increased his doubts. Certain 
photographs of the "ectoplasmic hand," especially, seemed to him to 
resemble lung-tissue, artificially shaped into resemblance to an ill- 
formed hand. 41 In at least one the annular bands of a trachea 
and a tubular opening appeared to be recognizable. 42 Refused prints 
of the photographs by Dr. Crandon, it was not until a year later 
that he could submit them to experts. Now Dr. W. B. Cannon, 
professor of physiology, and Dr. H. W. Rand, associate professor 
of zoology, both in Harvard University, support McDougall, stating 
that the "ectoplasm" undoubtedly was composed of the lung tissue 
of some animal. Other biologists and physicians coincide with this 
judgment. 43 

IV. Investigation by a Harvard Group. Four instructors and 
a graduate student having been somewhat impressed by the phe- 
nomena as seen in the Crandon home formed at "Walter's" sugges- 
tion a circle for study. They secured the use of a room of the Har- 
vard psychological department. The University authorities gave 
Hoagland permission, if the results should constitute a substantial 
contribution to knowledge, to submit them and their discussion as a 
Ph.D. thesis. 44 

A number of professors and physicians were invited to assist, their 
attendance being limited by Dr. Crandon's requirement that but 
one or two should be admitted at a time. For six sittings, May 19 
to June 24, 1925, no trickery was discovered and the majority of 
the sitters seem to have become impressed by phenomena. Several 
reports of the sittings, against the protest of the investigators, ap- 
peared in print. The last declared: "It is a joy to observe this study 
being made by honest men with open minds." 45 But on June 29th 
and 30th a number of things happened. 

Mr. Hoagland, as spokesman of the Harvard group, published 
a report in The Atlantic Monthly of November. Dr. Crandon pro- 
tested that this was in violation of agreement. On eight grounds 
appearing in the documents I think this contention unjustified, 46 



1925, 198. 

photograph has never been published, although evidentially value- 
less ones have appeared (as those of "spirit" hands, opposite p. 480 ^of 
MM., which might or might not be from the plaster casts shown opposite 
p. 340). 

"AT. y. Times, Feb. 28, 1926; Mar. 14, 1926. 



^Statements by members of the group on file. 
"Banner of Life, June 13, 1925, 



. 20, 27 ; July 4. 

"There is space but to allude to the principal of these, viz: that Dr. Cran- 
don formally assented in May to Mr. Hoagland's plan to use the results, 
if suitable, for a Ph.D. thesis; that no intention finally to suppress them 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 207 

but, after all, the nature of the facts is not affected by the formal 
question whether they should have been suppressed. Following is 
a digest of the principal features in the report. 

The great phenomenon was an "ectoplasmic limb" and its acts; 
but the ectoplasm differed in shape, consistency, reach and many 
other particulars from that of the Dingwall period. 

The report alleges more than twenty items of evidence (some 
complex), direct and collateral, leading to a verdict of normal pro- 
duction. 

Witnesses on the 29th saw a luminous anklet upon the floor; the 
claim that it fell off because too large was disproved; 47 * Walter 1 
denied but at the next sitting admitted that it had been off; 48 and 
it was surreptitiously replaced. Hoagland distinctly saw the sil- 
houette of a foot, its toes holding the luminous disc, and he traced 
the form of the leg to the knee. 49 The two discoveries gave the 
clues by which under the same conditions Code was able to repro- 
duce the performances to the entire satisfaction of previous witnesses. 

The plasticine, after the 'ectoplasm' had pressed it, showed skin 
marks, lint microscopically identical with that in the medium's 
slipper, and also inclusions of sand and an insect skeleton such as 
would be found upon the floor. 50 

The ankle-bands being firmly secured on the 30th, the leg was 
out of question, but the controllers (Professor Shapley and Mr. 
Code) observed the medium work both hands free from control, 
and one of them detected her conveying objects from the region of 
her lap and afterward returning them. 51 Internal search of the 
medium has never been permitted. 

The 'ectoplasm' of the 30th differed from that of the 29th by 



was ever broached; that Dr. Crandon allowed, against protest, data about 
the sittings to be printed in four issues of the Banner of Life; that solely 
for defence of himself and colleagues against premature gossip Professor 
Shapley on June 29th stipulated that names should not be given out with- 
out specific authorization and that attempts should be made to avoid pub- 
licity; that this agreement was not signed by Dr. Crandon and was bind- 
ing only on those who did sign it; that nine members of the group 
did authorize giving out a report after the sittings ended; that Dr. Crandon 
wrote a letter on July 6th saying that he agreed (to Code) not to publish 
the Harvard sittings except with the consent of the majority of the signers, 
yet without obtaining such consent he furnished the notes from which a 
garbled account appeared in several issues of the Boston Herald, before 
the report by Hoagland came out in Atlantic Monthly. 

"The anklets used this evening, for the fourth time, were pinned by 
the medium to the circumference of her own, were tight enough to leave 
skin marks, and had the safety pins still in place when they were taken 
off. 

*M. H. V., 73, 78. 

"Hoagland's addendum, expunged from p. 77 of M. H. F. 

'"The writer examined the plasticine imprints and found the lint, etc., 
stamped into the clay, which was clean outside the periphery of the impress- 
ions. 

"Particulars in this paragraph and the next to be found in sitting notes 
omitted by M. H. V. See dots occuring before the signatures, M. H. V., 82 



208 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

numerous characteristics. Its movements correlated with those of 
the luminous armlet. Various signs indicated a mechanical contri- 
vance worked by hand. The plasticine received an imprint like that 
of a chain, but no skin-marks, though there were three deep impress- 
ions resembling those which cloth-covered fingers would make. 
What the feet could not do this evening the hands could do, as Code's 
duplication under like conditions proved. Thus both on the 29th 
and 30th the correct scientific method was employed; observation 
followed by hypothesis, hypothesis followed by verifying check. 

The above, with many other focussing collateral details, left no 
perplexities in the minds of the Harvard group, including the woman 
physician whom the Crandon pamphlet attempts to make appear a 
witness in Margery's favor. 52 

Hoagland's report stresses, at least provisionally, the theory that 
the trickery is largely automatic, subconscious. But the incorporated 
argument by Code to that effect can be applied in most of its parts to 
every professional medium, including those known to purchase their 
apparatus and to consult with each other as to methodology. 

Certain acts and expressions of Code which have been criticised ap- 
pear to have been effects of friendship for the Crandon family and of 
his desire to shield it so far as possible, but they only emphasize his 
reluctant testimony as to the vital facts, which, by the way, do not 
rest upon his witness alone. 

Subsequently, to correct false rumors in the newspapers that they 
were not agreed, all the members of the Harvard group who could 
be reached at the time signed and printed a statement that "the group 
is in absolute agreement that the only conclusion possible to them is 
that trickery accounted for all the phenomena; that the only possible 
difference of opinion in the group is to what extent the trickery was 
unconscious." The signatories were: Harlow Shapley (director of 
Harvard Astronomical Observatory), S. B. Wolbach, (professor of 
pathology in Harvard Medical School), Edwin G. Boring (director 
of Harvard Psychological Laboratory), Hilbert F. Day (surgeon), 
Deborah Fawcett (physician), Hudson Hoagland (engineer and now 
Harvard assistant in psychology ), S. Foster Damon, Robert Hillyer 
and John Marshall (all three Harvard instructors in English). 63 

The anonymous pamphlet Margery-Harvard-Veritas, lately issued 
by Dr. Crandon and his friends, attempts to discredit the judgment of 
all sixteen persons composing three accepted tribunals except Mr. 
Carrington, and also claims to present the entire notes of the Har- 
vard sittings, "absolutely as they were written and signed." 

As regards the first factor, the contradictions, perversions and sup- 



., 27; see note 61. 

"Excessively young men" (M.H.V. 83). Their ages range upwards to 40, 
and the youngest is older than Pitt when he became Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, Hamilton when made the valued aide of Washington, Huxley when 
already engaged in the researches which made him a Fellow of the Royal 
Society, and Crookes when he had begun his important discoveries. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 209 

pressions of established data are so numerous and similar to those in 
M.M. as to suggest a common hand. It is asserted that after a rule 
was found in the box Houdini went into "a state of prostration" and 
exclaimed, "I am willing to forget this if you are/' although every- 
one present knows that the prostration is a myth, and that the words 
were uttered after 'Walter* apologized for a profane and vulgar sen- 
tence which had issued from the region of the medium's mouth. 54 
"Dr. Prince. . . declares he does not know whether a bell that lies 
in his own lap rings or not," 55 is the twist put upon the incident given 
above [p. 202] and correctly reported to Dr. Crandon in writing; 
M.H.V. asserts that "there was no luminous doughnut" on June 30th, 
although pages 80-81 show its use; that "they brought no apparatus 
except the bell-box" on that date, 56 though various pieces of apparatus 
are named in the notes printed on the same pages; that the plasticine 
balls were on June 29th "all piled in a bag" unidentified and "made 
off with" by Dr. Wolbach, 57 whereas they were carefully marked and 
placed in boxes. It is asked if the use of the 12-inch anklets in the 
seventh sitting was "to form a way of escape for the honorable in- 
vestigators," 58 although the same anklets had been used at previous 
sittings. 

Secondly, the exact assurance of M.H.V. is: "We append here- 
with the official notes of the Harvard sittings. They appear absolutely 
as written and signed" (italics mine). 59 This statement proves, on 
comparison, to be complexly untrue: 

(1) Changes. The prefatory paragraph on page 40 of M.H.V. 
has been altered, and "Dr. Crandon" or "Crandon" changed more 
than a hundred times to "F. H." excusable alterations but for the 
denial of any changes. There are other alterations, unimportant, but 
yet alterations. 

(2) Additions. A paragraph of 108 words on page 82, declaring 
that in "our minds" is "no doubt that this mediumship is one of the 
most important ever recorded," masquerades as part of the sitting- 
notes. 

(3) Subtractions. Two recorded vulgarisms of 'Walter* are 
missing from page 40, and a passage of 49 words, containing an es- 
pecially offensive utterance, has been expunged from page 42. All 
"damns," references to the Deity and Hades are carefully omitted from 
pages 43, 45, 47, 61, 62, 66, 70, 72 and 78. 

(4) Omissions. Now we come to prime offenses, the omission of 
notes of crucial importance. Although various addenda of the earlier 
and uncertain stage of proceedings are properly printed, including one 
written twelve days after the sitting, 60 Mr. Hoagland's addendum of 
210 words relating to his discovery of the leg, made during the sitting 
and announced later the same evening, is entirely expunged, although 
regularly incorporated with the original official notes and typed on the 



"M.H.V., 12. **M.H.V., 15. M.H.V., 25. 57 MJf.F., 24. "M.H.V., 32. 
"M.H.V., 37. "M.H.V., 59. 



210 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 



same page with the matter at the top of page 77 ! Also, the final 
pages of June 30th, partly composed of dictaphone notes of the same 
evening and partly of addenda supplied by members of the group, em- 
bodying their conclusions and in particular vitally important facts of 
that evening, such as the description by two observers of how the psy- 
chic freed all of one hand and the ringers of the other, the use she 
made of them, the peculiarities of the plasticine prints and other par- 
ticulars, are completely obliterated, making it appear that all such 
statements were after-thoughts! Altogether I find that about 1440 
words have been stricken out of the official notes of the sittings, al- 
though parts of this material, secured from Dr. Crandon, had been 
printed in the Boston Herald before the Atlantic report appeared. On 
page 82 of the M.H.7. version itself the tell-tale dots appear, signi- 
fying omission of notes "as written and signed." And on page 27 re- 
course is had to some of the material, "Notes, June 30, p. 9," which 
is expunged from the pamphlet, giving the very page of the typed 
manuscript on which it was found. 61 

(5) Misdirections. Italicizing passages nullified by discoveries 
made after the passages were dictated in good but mistaken faith is 
as bad as altering the text, since it equally misdirects readers. The 
most of these passages consist of expressions like "Control O. K." Yet 
the sponsors for the pamphlet well know that after it was learned 
that a luminous band could be removed and replaced without 
detection, and while off still appear in the darkness to be on un- 
less the medium forgot the precaution of partly obscuring it, every 
previous assurance as to the foot had lost its force. The most 
flagrant instances of misdirection are where passages similar to "feet 
and hands visible" are italicized, for those responsible for them know 
that the luminous bands shed no light on nearby objects and that ac- 
tually the hands and feet were not visible. The expression is a collo- 
quial one, metonymy for the bands then supposed to mark the exact 
position of hands and feet. Psychic research is not a game of words 
but an inquiry as to the facts. 

Italicized dictations, such as "seems to have very crude fingers," "in 
general the visible operation of the hand seemed clumsy and awk- 
ward," "ill-formed hand," are exactly what the discoverer of the foot 
in action would desire the reader to attend to. 62 

Those who have the information which explains certain other pass- 
ages italicize them, apparently, to confuse readers who lack that in- 
formation. "Foot control checked at Code's request by having each 
foot move separately in a different direction." 63 As though the free 
anklet could not be shoved along the floor by the toes! The reader 
may well be puzzled by the note on page 76 saying that the investi- 



does the paragraph correctly represent Dr. Fawcett's testimony. She 
did not say that "hiding was catamenially impossible" nor anything which 
necessarily implies that. 
"M.H.V., 54, 56, 62, 63, 67, 69, 71, 73. 
71. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 211 

gators were to blame for the bands coming off. They at the moment 
trusted the psychic's statement that the bands were loose not until 
afterward did they find that she had pinned the anklets to exactly the 
dimensions of her own impeccable ones. They should have measured 
at once, but I have yet to meet the investigator who never forgot any- 
thing he should have done. But there are few passages which should 
puzzle the reader, unless he intuitively has more knowledge than the 
actual observers who were convinced of particular frauds. In the 
light of those discoveries many otherwise perplexing notes become not 
only clear but buttress the discoveries themselves. 

The pamphlet puts various questions of such quality as, "If the 
garter fell off why didn't Code pick it up?" 64 It seems to be held 
both that the garter did not come off and that it came off because 
too loose. But it appears that Code was busily engaged in running 
the dictaphone at the time and, moreover, the rules definitely forbade 
his doing what is suggested. The garter was off, and this fact was af- 
terward admitted by 'Walter'; did it 'fall' on again? Why, it is 
asked, 65 did not Hoagland proclaim his discovery of the leg at the 
moment? And precipitate a wrangle as Houdini did when he pro- 
claimed fraud, and afterwards have it said that he ought to have been 
thrown out! Of all cases this seems to be the one where an investi- 
gator, whether he does a thing or its opposite, is most certain to be 
asked why he did not do the other thing. 

Dr. Crandon continues with extraordinary perseverance to put for- 
ward his medium and to attack the lengthening line of accepted and 
unconvinced investigators. 66 Beyond all other American cases, the 
scientific investigation of this has been hampered by traditional ritual, 
"psychic laws" to be taken for granted and attempts to impose ar- 
bitrary and irrational rules. So far as investigators consented to such 
rules they are denounced for the acts or omissions to act resulting 
from the rules, and so far as any of them declined to be bound by 
novel and artificial conventions they are denounced for their con- 
tumacy. On the other hand there has probably never been a similar 
American case which has been tried so open-mindedly and even hope- 
fully, so patiently and fairly. Nor, my acquaintance with the docu- 
ments compels me to add, have any adverse decisions probably been 
rendered with such extreme forbearance and economy in the use of 
pertinent material. 

The uncommon hold which the Margery case retains upon public 
attention is, I think, due to several reasons: 

(1) The ordinary difficulties of guessing in the dark under 



"M.H.V., 23. "M.H.r. f 23. 

W M.H.V. indeed sets against the verdicts of the three official commissions 
the confidence of "three hundred" persons of unknown qualifications who are 
said to entertain no suspicions (M.H.V., 3f.). But so could Cagliostro, Slade 
and the Davenport Brothers, and so can living and demonstrated fraudulent 
mediums, point to their hundreds or thousands of believers. 



212 WALTER FRANKLIN PRINCE 

traditional conditions aided by a set of regulations, arbitrary beyond 
precedent. 

(2) Uncommon cleverness on the part of the medium, both in- 
nate and consciously or subconsciously acquired. 

(3) Superior technique in accordance with the psychology of de- 
ception; exchanging one type of phenomena for another before the 
study of the first is complete, and devising new types after a verdict 
has been rendered, so that the medium always keeps one step ahead. 67 

(4) The exclusion of investigators soon after they begin to ex- 
press doubts and reasons therefor, thereby limiting the number able 
to declare actual discovery of fraud. 

(5) The personal charm of the medium, winning emotional ad- 
vocacy, especially among men. 

(6) A persistent propaganda, persuading many by its very vehe- 
mence that its allegations must be true. 

(7) Paucity of response from the opposition, to which the indig- 
nities of this kind of controversy are distasteful. 

(8) The indifference of the masses to dry logic and analysis, and 
their instinctive gravitation toward the highly sensational. 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE FOR THIS VOLUME 

No reply has been made to the above review. 

A committee of the A. S. P. R., composed of two psychologists and 
one physicist, has sat on the case, but the Crandons terminated the 
series at the end of the fourth sitting. The professor of physics de- 
clares himself firmly convinced of fraud, says that the apparatus used 
serves only to give a deceptive appearance of scientific control, asks 
why instead of the cumbrous voice machine the use of a simple stetho- 
scope to test the "independent voice" is not allowed, affirms that on 
one occasion in the darkness he traced clear to Margery's mouth a 
small solid rod covered with something feeling like soft leather, etc. 
The other two members of the committee did not report, and the 
A. S. P. R. has been silent on the whole matter. 

Also Dr. J. B. Rhine, an instructor of science in West Virginia 
University, and his wife, Dr. L. E. Rhine, having been much im- 
pressed by the favorable accounts particularly of Mr. Bird, had one 
sitting (failing to get permission for more), made a number of ob- 
servations throwing light particularly upon the operation of the glass 
cabinet, and were completely disillusioned. Their report was printed 
in the first issue of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 
for 1927. 

Miss May C. Walker, an indefatigable searcher for psychic phe- 
nomena, who has seen and become convinced by some of the physical 
cases in Europe, came from England suspecting that Margery had 



^To no scientific commission which has yet reported have the "voice 
machine" and glass cabinet been submitted. I am therefore debarred by the 
plan of this article from discussing their modes of operation. 



A REVIEW OF THE MARGERY CASE 213 



been treated unfairly by prejudiced investigators. But in two sittings 
she was profoundly convinced that the phenomena were spurious, and 
she declared that the "control" allowed and the "conditions" exacted 
are far less favorable to tests than those in the European cases re- 
ferred to. 

Since the publication of my review, Mr. Dingwall has published 
a lengthy report of his sittings, in the Proceedings of the English 
S. P. R. (June, 1926), leaving the reader with dubious impressions. 
His report was followed by a brief letter from Dr. Crandon, chiefly 
composed of ridicule directed against Mr. Dingwall. Messrs. Hoag- 
land and Code have seventeen pages in a later Proceedings of the 
S.P.R. (Jan., 1927), correcting misapprehensions abroad. So much 
for the "official and accepted" investigators and the defendants. 

In the meantime the Journal of the A. S. P. R. has kept up in 
many issues its heroic defense of Margery, and Dr. Tillyard, a British 
biologist of little experience in this field, has had two sittings and an- 
nounced his conversion. Many sitters have come and gone during 
the last six months, some (including a number of clergymen) thrilled 
by what they deemed manifestations of the other world, some dis- 
gusted by what they were convinced was the jugglery of this world. 

There is living today a lady, Anna Eva Fay, who under control ap- 
parently more exacting than any to which Margery has submitted, by 
greater wonders than have ever occurred in connection with Margery, 
outwitted the electrician Varley and the great scientist Crookes, who 
were utterly unable to conceive of any normal mode of production. 
Only the other day (if I may be permitted for once to speak from 
personal knowledge), under the most casual circumstances, she pro- 
duced for me in three minutes a "phenomenon" more mysterious than 
anything I saw in eleven sittings with Margery. 



CHAPTER X 
SOME LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 



BY F. C. S. SCHILLER 



I am not ashamed to confess that I have been a psychical researcher 
for a long time. It was some forty-four years ago, when as a lad 
of eighteen, I became a psychical researcher. It may seem very re- 
markable that I have remained one ever since, without either giving 
up the subject as hopeless or extracting from it any overbelief and 
turning it into a religion. Perhaps this unusual tenacity in retain- 
ing the researcher's attitude will seem to you less remarkable if I re- 
late the story of my conversion to Psychical Research. Some one had 
been telling a ghost story of the tenth-hand unauthenticated kind 
which is still usual, and forty years ago was almost universal, and I 
was indulging in the usual sceptical sneers which were, and still are, 
fashionable among intelligent young men. But as I was arguing 
against it and expressing my disbelief, the thought suddenly flashed 
across my mind, "But why have these stories never been seriously in- 
vestigated as they ought to be? For if there should prove to be any 
truth in them, they would be tremendously important !" So I stopped 
arguing and determined to investigate instead. I have been investi- 
gating them ever since. Nor do I regret it for an instant, for the 
study of psychics has taught me a number of very important truths 
which I could hardly have learned in any other way and from any 
other study. 

There were, however, serious drawbacks to being a psychical re- 
searcher in those days. One more than imperilled, one all but lost 
any reputation for intellectual sanity one might have had, and ex- 
posed oneself to several degrees of martyrdom. I remember, for 
example, that the first thing I ever heard about Sir William Crookes 
was that he had been a brilliant scientist, but that recently he had 
unfortunately gone off his head, and lapsed into spiritualism. It was 
not till many years later, when I met him, that I discovered how 
grotesquely false this calumny had been. Similar stories were circu- 
lated, no doubt from the highest scientific motives, about Harry Sidg- 
wick and William James in short about every prominent psychical 



216 F. C. S. SCHILLER 

researcher to my certain knowledge. I should never be surprised 
to learn that by this time they had been told, or in consequence of 
this lecture would now be told, also about me! For, as was so signal- 
ly illustrated during the late war, there are plenty of people about 
who hold that a good cause sanctifies every sort of "propaganda". 
Knowing this, academic personages, especially, greatly feared to rush 
in where they ran the risk of encountering angels unawares, and the 
cause of free research and spiritual progress has never, it seems to me, 
incurred a greater debt of gratitude than that which it owes to the 
pioneers of Psychical Research. In particular was it not an act 
of the loftiest moral courage when Sir Oliver Lodge, then the head 
of Birmingham University, published "Raymond" in the midst of the 
World War, and so recalled the world to a sense of the spiritual im- 
port of the daily butcheries, which, in their nationalistic zeal and their 
absorption in the Great European Dog-Fight, the churches had every- 
where forgotten! 

But I must return to my own humbler career as a psychical re- 
searcher. When I came to Oxford in 1882 I found that there had 
been in existence for six or seven years a small band of psychical re- 
searchers whom I could join. They were mostly undergraduates, 
with some recent graduates, not a few of whom, like Sir Charles 
Oman, the Bishop of Gloucester, and Dr. F. E. Brightman have 
since attained to academic distinction. They were organized into a 
club called the Phasmatological Society, and they hunted ghost 
stories, and, whenever they got the chance, also ghosts. A little be- 
fore my time, one heroic member was believed to have actually shot 
a ghost in a haunted house at Horsepath near Oxford, but of course 
without mortally laying it. Our procedure, when we had run down 
a ghost story, in as complete and first-hand a shape as it could be got, 
was to read it out at a meeting of the Society, and to try to "explain" 
it, i. e. to account for it by natural causes. If no natural explana- 
tion could be suggested and we did not stick at trifles, for I re- 
member we once postulated a wholly hypothetical earthquake in order 
to explain a story a story was "voted" unexplained. Our idea was 
that when a sufficiently large number of "unexplained" stories had 
accumulated, the Society would solemnly proceed to formulate a 
theory that would go beyond the bounds of acknowledged science and 
"explain" them. 

You will note that our procedure was inspired by the strictest 
canons of Baconian induction. Needless to say the "Phas", as we 



LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 217 

called it for short, never lived to complete its self-imposed task; and 
when the Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882 in 
London, we became subsidiary to it, and ultimately presented our 
collection of stories to its archives. It may, however, be contended 
that the little Oxford Phasmatological Society was the first systematic 
attempt at scientific research into psychical matters, and it is a curious 
coincidence that the idea, like that of the Royal Society, first took 
root in Oxford, though its development soon passed into predom- 
inantly Cambridge hands. 

I would also urge that from its procedure one could derive a much 
better training in scientific method and the logic of real reasoning than 
was then obtainable in Oxford. For the traditional Formal Logic 
had, and still has, no logical connection whatever with actual reason- 
ing; my experience of investigating the truth-claims of ghost-stories 
was sufficient to instill this conviction into me, though I could not 
then have shown, as I was subsequently able to do in Formal Logic, 
that the whole pseudo-science rested on a systematic abstraction from 
actual meaning. The metaphysical logicians, of whom Oxford was 
inordinately proud, dwelt in a fogbelt in which no fact of any sort 
or kind remained visible, and besides they too were tied at bottom to 
the abstraction of formal logic. Such theories of scientific method as 
existed all conceived themselves as theories, not of inquiry, but of 
proof, and contented themselves with the somewhat humorous super- 
fluity of bestowing their logical benediction upon truths which the 
sciences had already established beyond cavil ; they all proceeded upon 
the natural but fatal illusion that the method of science was best 
exemplified by contemplation of choses jugees, by rumination of the 
questions that had ceased to be open from time immemorial. So they 
directed one's attention to the tritest truths of mathematics, of whose 
discovery the record had been lost, and made us attempt to describe 
how the inquirer should approach real problems and effect his selection 
among rival hypotheses that all looked as if they might possibly be 
true. Lastly the actual researchers, who were actively adding to the 
sum of scientific knowledge, were almost always innocent of text- 
book logic, and so unhampered by it, even though occasionally, when 
challenged, they had a disconcerting way of looking up the logic- 
books and trying to distort their own actual procedure into some- 
thing like that which they found prescribed by the logicians. 

I feel that I owe it to the critical inquiries of the Phasmatological 
Society that I never became enslaved to the fatuities of the traditional 



218 F. C. S. SCHILLER 

logic, and became capable of conceiving the idea of a humanist logic 
that interested itself in the actual reasonings of men and their practical 
difficulties in attaining truth. And I would still urge that, for any 
one who wished to apprehend the real method of science and to ap- 
preciate its real difficulties, there is no better training ground than 
Psychical Research. For does it not stand to reason, if we stop to 
reflect for a moment, that the mind must become most poignantly 
conscious of its procedures and of the risks it runs, in a subject where 
everything may be tried and nothing may be taken for granted, where 
every step may go astray and the wildest guess may hit the mark, 
where every inference plainly has an emotional bearing and a practical 
interest which may make it or mar it, and where the whole field is 
permeated by violent prejudices which may at any point and to any 
extent distort and discredit the testimony on both sides of every 
question? Not a subject to attract the timid, but surely excellent to 
test one's logical head! 

The last of these dangers was impressed on me very early. I had 
begun like the rest of us, with the assumption that the bias in the 
matter was all of one sort, and all in the direction of credulity. But 
I soon found out that there existed in some a will to disbelieve as 
strong as any will to believe. It was moreover much craftier and 
more difficult to discount, because it concealed itself under specious 
disguises and assumed an air of scientific rectitude. As psychical re- 
searchers did not then make sufficient allowance for the existence of 
this will to disbelieve and the obstacles which it placed in their path, 
I set myself to prove its existence. This was the logical aim of the 
questionnaire into the state of human sentiment about a future life, 
which, with the help of Richard Hodgson, I circulated more than 
twenty-five years ago. 1 

My next endeavor was to find a logic that would admit of adequate 
inquiry into the alleged facts of psychical phenomena, and this proved 
a difficult task. It was clear in the first place that the mind had to 
be purged of all a priori prejudices, among which were to be included 
most of the a priori "truths". This meant that the notion of a priori 
impossibility had to be cancelled ; no scientific or philosophic principle 
must be regarded as so irrefragably established that it could not be 
conceived as modified, or even subverted, by an adequate amount of 
empirical evidence to the contrary. In this contention I may fairly 



^or the results see the S. P. R. Proceedings, Part XLIX, and Problems of 
Belief, Chapter V. 



LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 219 

claim to have been borne out by the best tendencies of modern science. 
The last thirty years have witnessed a renunciation by science of the 
absolute truth of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics, of the 
universality of the "law" of gravity, and of the indestructibility of 
matter, and the reduction of the conservation of energy to a metho- 
dological assumption or even friction. Modern science would no 
longer seriously boggle at what I should take as the first canon of 
psychical research, viz. that nothing is incredible if the evidence for 
it is good enough* 

Many philosophers, no doubt, still cling to various sorts of a priori, 
for the sake of the power which they fancy it gives them over the 
sciences, and most logicians are reluctant to admit that the "laws" of 
Identity and Contradiction are not basic principles of reality but 
merely postulates of intelligible discourse ; but the progressive sciences 
are growing more and more willing to examine any hypothesis, how- 
ever shocking to our inherited prejudices, provided that it admits of 
experimental verification, and submits properly accredited evidence. 

But of course the open-mindedness which comes from such com- 
plete empiricism is only the first requisite ; the logic which is willing 
to look for empirical evidence must be followed up by a logic which 
is willing to let empirical evidence accumulate. And this meant run- 
ning counter to a hoary prejudice which believed that empirical evi- 
dence could, and should, be "absolutely cogent". The traditional 
logic was so devoted to "ideals" that it hardly ever deigned to notice 
the actual, and the ideal of absolute proof was among the most mis- 
leading of its ideals. For it easily lent itself to the total suppression 
of cumulative evidence. Thus if, for a truth to be "proved", it is 
necessary to find a case of its occurrence so "conclusive" that in no 
way and on no ground can any exception be taken to it, if in addition 
any case which falls short of this ideal may be rejected forthwith and 
forever as "inconclusive", it is clear that the accumulation of evidence 
is rendered impossible. For the ideally perfect or "conclusive" case 
cannot be got, and it is logical foolishness to expect it. Sufficiently 
violent assumptions of incompetence or fraud can always cast a slur 
upon the most impressive evidence, and render it inconclusive. If 
thereupon the inconclusive cases are not allowed to acquire collective 
weight and growing probability by corroborating one another, if, 
that is, logical accumulation is ruled out, each case can, and must, 
be condemned on its own shortcomings. And after it is gone, the 



220 F. C. S. SCHILLER 

same destructive criticism can be applied to the next case, and will 
dispose of that with equal ease. 

Clearly such canons of logical criticism have the effect of rendering 
empirical proof impossible ; and as they originated in formal logic they 
may also be suspected of having been intended to have this effect. At 
any rate they proved potent to beguile and confuse even professed psy- 
chical researchers. It was by these methods, applied with the utmost 
ingenuity, that the late Frank Podmore was enabled to discard all 
the phenomena he did not wish to believe in ; and only last summer, 
when I tried to bring a very authentic case of a "spirit-photograph" 
under the notice of Mr. Dingwall, the Research Officer of S. P. R., 
I was met by the reply that the case could not be published because it 
was not "conclusive", and that he had "thousands" of better cases. 
It seems imperative, therefore, to point out that the adoption of such 
impossible standards of proof is bound to stultify psychical research, 
and that their adoption is unscientific. No empirical science ever 
accepts such a handicap. No scientific theory is ever proved ab- 
lutely, or proved by any such coup de theatre; it is high time that 
psychical researchers also learned that they must advance by the 
gradual accumulation of evidence and the slow growth of probabilities 
which increase the weight of one hypothesis, consolidate its superiority 
over its competitors, and finally lead to its overwhelming acceptance. 

These logical blunders in the theory of scientific research, not only 
frustrated psychical research by setting up impossible standards, but, 
what was even worse, diverted attention from the removal of a real 
weakness which afflicted the subject. Psychical researchers have not 
so far attained to experimental control of the matters they are in- 
vestigating. They do not kuow the conditions under which the phe- 
nomena they are trying to study are generated well enough to pro- 
duce and examine them at will ; so they remain collectors of data and 
observers, rather than experimenters. They are not able to observe 
what they like and as they like, and have to wait upon fortune and 
to make the most of the sporadic gifts she sends. 

Now in itself this situation does not constitute a slur upon the 
scientific status of a subject. It is a condition in which all sciences 
find themselves at first, and in which some, like astronomy and med- 
icine, must to a large extent, it seems, remain forever. But it neces- 
sarily renders scientific progress slow. 

It is moreover a further consequence of this lack of experimental 
control over the phenomena that the severest and most trustworthy 



LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 221 

of all the tests of truth, the pragmatic, cannot as yet be applied in 
Psychical Research. We cannot as yet maintain that psychic phe- 
nomena "work" so obviously and so surely that their reality is practi- 
cally beyond dispute, and that disbelief in them has become merely 
silly, like disbelief in telegraphy. Telepathy is not yet a cheaper sub- 
stitute for telegraphy, as it should be capable of becoming if the 
faculty could be controlled. 

Yet here perhaps one exception may have to be recognised. Water- 
finding by "dowsers," a practice known since the days of Moses, ap- 
pears to have won its way to commercial recognition; at any rate 
firms of well-sinkers find it profitable to employ dowsers, and will 
make contracts for sinking wells based upon such employment. More- 
over these contracts seem very reasonable. They proceed on the 
principle, "No water, no pay!", and if the water is found at a greater 
depth than was predicted, they do not charge for the extra sinking. 
Moreover one frequently meets responsible persons who have been 
their clients and have obtained water supplies in this manner, often 
in unlikely places decried by geologists. I may mention, among my 
own friends, Dr. Bridges, the Poet-Laureate, and Dr. L. P. Jacks, 
the Editor of the Hibbert Journal. Clearly then dowsing is a super- 
normal faculty which does to some extent stand the pragmatic test; 
and this proves that psychical phenomena are not intrinsically un- 
amenable to this test. 

What I wish to infer from this case, and to impress on all psychical 
researchers as strongly as I can, is the enormous importance of ren- 
dering all psychical phenomena amenable to the pragmatic test. Its 
importance is not only practical, but also logical. That its practical 
importance is immense, it is easy to perceive. If the telepathic trans- 
mission of thoughts from one mind to another could be relied on, 
the revolution in all social relations would be incalculable. If dowsers 
could be trained to find metals and oil as well as water, multi-mil- 
lionaires would spring up among them. And, conversely, the fact 
that they have not done so is a serious argument against the reality 
of dowsing. And if communication with the departed became easy 
and trustworthy, we should all find ourselves practically compelled to 
live differently. But the logical situation also would be transformed. 
If such psychic powers were common and in general use, it would no 
longer be possible to dispute their reality. And even if it were pos- 
sible, it would not be worth while. Their de facto working would be 
infinitely more convincing than any amount of argumentation. So- 



222 P. C. S. SCHILLER 

cieties for Psychical Research, therefore, would do well not to neglect 
entirely these practical applications of their inquiries. They have 
a real logical bearing upon the proof of psychical phenomena. This 
was the serious point I endeavored to make, perhaps in too frivolous 
a form, in the first number of the Occult Review. 

On the technique of actual investigation I hardly feel competent to 
say very much. To be entitled to offer advice on this question I 
should have had far more experience in actual research than has 
fallen to my lot; and besides the actual technique has always to be 
adapted to the particular case. I will, therefore, venture to say only 
one thing. It does not seem to me that any one's judgment on any 
case of "mediumship" can be very valuable unless he has been able 
to subject it to repeated and prolonged examination. An attempt to 
pronounce judgment on a case, other than one of obvious fraud, after 
one or two sittings seems to be hardly fair, either to the medium or to 
the sitter. For the phenomena are still so capricious and uncontrol- 
lable that, with a small number of observations no theory can be con- 
firmed, and both the hits and the blanks may need to be discounted 
as due to chance, while even the most intelligent inquirer can hardly 
reckon on detecting all the subtler possibilities of deception and fraud 
at a first glance. It is better, therefore, not to attempt investigation 
of a case at all, if adequate time and attention cannot be bestowed 
upon it. 

On the other hand it may be useful to make some remarks on the 
competing interpretations of the cases where neither the good faith 
of the psychic nor the supernormal character of the phenomena is 
seriously open to dispute. Such cases are rare, but I do not stand 
alone in recognizing Mrs. Piper's as one of them. Granting the 
facts of such cases, and I have myself received information of which 
no normal explanation seems possible, the question arises, by what 
hypothesis are they to be interpreted? Now prima facie there are 
a number of possible hypotheses, and initially one of them may appeal 
more to one mind and another to another. At present these prefer- 
ences are essentially differences of taste, for no one is able to adduce 
any cogent proof of the interpretation he prefers, or even to suggest 
any experiment which would decisively establish it. Yet the adher- 
ents of the rival hypotheses are very apt to quarrel and to waste upon 
their sterile disputes energy that would be much better bestowed upon 
investigation. Hence it seems sound advice to urge them not to let 
such differences obstruct investigation. For it is at present much 



LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 223 

more important to establish and multiply the facts than to devise 
hypotheses for their "explanation." 

A number of reasons may be assigned for this contention. 

( 1 ) If there is anything in Psychical Research at all, it opens up 
a region of unexplored possibilities so vast that the "facts" to be en- 
countered in it are likely to be very various, very complicated, and very 
different from those most familiar to us. There is, therefore, ample 
room for the operations of a variety of heuristic hypotheses. One 
hypothesis may be best for the apprehension of one sort of "fact," 
another for another; all may have their uses. All may prove "true" 
in different parts of the field. Thus we need not deny that some of 
the phenomena seem quite definitely to suggest communications from 
the departed, because others, almost as definitely, do not. Nor are 
we entitled to assume that because our hypotheses now seem to us 
to be mutually exclusive, they will remain as exclusive as they look. 

For (2) it is incumbent on us to remember that not only are the 
phenomena we are seeking to apprehend doubtful, vague, and elusive, 
but the hypotheses also by which we seek to apprehend them are 
similarly ill-defined. They deal in terms which are really unknown 
quantities to a large extent. To point this out has been a favorite 
objection to the spiritist interpretation. It is asked, "What is a 
spirit?" It is said that we know nothing about disembodied intel- 
ligences, and can form no conception of how they would operate or 
communicate. There is no harm in conceding some truth to such 
objections, if they are accompanied by willingness to learn. It is also 
true that we do not know nearly enough about embodied intelligences, 
and have hardly begun to study how they communicate their meanings. 
In any case do not similar objections hold against the terms used by 
the current alternatives to the spirit-hypothesis with at least equal 
force? We know nothing about the structural basis of the "tele- 
pathic" intercommunication of minds, though some of us are eager 
to snatch up any "ray" that the physicists discover, and to build upon 
it analogies which are far-fetched and likely to be false. Others glibly 
appeal to "the unconscious (or subconscious) mind," as if that term 
at once explained how conscious minds were rendered porous to each 
other's influence, and were not itself a first-class psychological crux. 
How are we to conceive the nature of unconscious mind, and to de- 
termine what it can do and what not? Yet others go still further, 
and gaily postulate a "cosmic reservoir" in which to store the records 
of all past events, and from which those fortunate enough to tap it 



224 F. C. S. SCHILLER 

can draw unstinted draughts of potential omniscience. That would 
seem an excellent way of pooling all our difficulties, if only we could 
slur over the problem of intelligent selection from what would really 
be an enormous rubbish heap. Others again are disposed to imagine 
that "multiple personality" and "the dissociation of the self" yield 
the open sesame to all the mysteries; they have overlooked that no 
adequate account of personality is extant anywhere, and that the na- 
ture of the self has baffled every philosophy which has attempted to 
explain it. Lastly, it is very easy to allege the hypothesis of diabolical 
deception, and from its very nature impossible to confute it cogently; 
but are we justified in claiming to know so much about devils and 
their ways that we can really prove it from the facts? Even the 
most dogmatic theologians might find it hard to substantiate their 
claim that they were fully familiar with the diabolic nature, and 
trustworthy guides to its psychology. The truth is that devils have 
always been popular favorites in accounting for any oddity of nature ; 
they, therefore, easily suggest themselves to a certain profession and 
to a certain type of mind. But scientific method has never found them 
a profitable hypothesis, and there is little reason to think that they 
will really work in Psychical Research. 

(3) "Well, then, what conclusion would you draw from all this?" 
I may be asked. I can see no immediate probability of conducting 
crucial experiments that will establish or dismiss any or all of these 
hypotheses. They may all be right, and all be wrong in part. They 
may all be tried by those who think it worth the while. They may 
all be of use in eliciting further facts. 

Nor is there any reason why we should not try to bethink our- 
selves of further theories still unheard of. For the facts are certainly 
very strange, and may well be so alien to our present modes of thought 
that quite unfamiliar and unsuspected analogies may yield the clues. 
Even highly respectable sciences, with a long record of successful 
service, may at times find themselves embarrassed by the discovery of 
facts which they cannot dispute, and yet cannot interpret theoretically. 
At the present moment, for example, physics finds itself at a loss to 
supply a coherent theory for the facts of so familiar a phenomenon 
as light. Many of the known facts point to a wave theory of light, 
which only a few years ago was generally believed to have been finally 
proved ; others fit only into an emission theory ; but no known theory 
will cover all the known facts, and no way of rendering wave theories 
compatible with emission theories has yet been devised. There is 



LOGICAL ASPECTS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 225 

nothing for it but to go on using both theories, without committing 
oneself to either, using each for the phenomena which seem amenable 
to treatment by it, and to trust to time and future discoveries to hit 
upon a hypothesis which works completely and is really adequate. 

I would suggest, therefore, that if such a procedure and such a sit- 
uation is not beneath the dignity of so triumphant a science as phys- 
ics, it is as much as can be expected from so humble and so disputed 
an aspirant to scientific status as Psychical Research. It would be 
rash, as things are, and it is logically quite unnecessary, for us to pin 
our faith on any theory. For the degree of confidence we have in it 
does not affect its power to explain. It is possible to use a hypothesis 
without believing in it very much, to hold it experimentally and 
heuristically, and to value it only so far as it works. Let us, there- 
fore, go on using any conception and any hypothesis that looks 
promising, likely to help us in apprehending a very elusive mass of 
apparent facts and to be fertile in suggesting fresh experiments and 
in exploring fresh regions of fact. It seems probable enough that the 
facts will long continue to seem bizarre and incredible and chaotic; 
but our faith in Scientific Method should embolden us to believe that, 
if we go on, we shall find a way, even through the thickest jungle. 
It is the scientific will to find a way which has hitherto been lacking. 

I trust that I have made it intelligible how it is that I am still a 
psychical researcher, even as I was forty years ago. But I am dis- 
tressed to find at the end of this lecture that I can conclude with 
nothing better than a profession of faith. For faith should come at 
the beginning of a scientific inquiry, not at the end. At the end we 
should be harvesting its fruits. But when I consider the early history 
of other sciences and their agelong gropings, I do not despair. Phys- 
ics blundered about with plausible but futile antitheses like the hot 
and the cold, the dense and the rare, the light and the heavy, for 
thousands of years, before it entered on the path of steady progress 
with the mechanical hypothesis and the experimental method. Psy- 
chology is more than two thousand years old, but in spite of the ut- 
most ingenuity and assiduity of its practitioners it is engaged upon the 
preliminary operation of naming its phenomena, a business Adam is 
supposed to have performed for zoology before he quitted Paradise, 
and is still divided into a number of schools endeavoring in various 
ways to find conceptions and methods which will enable it to control 
the mental life it studies. In Psychical Research we are now, at last 
and for the first time in history, setting about our task in the right 



226 F. C. S. SCHILLER 

spirit and in the right way. I shall cherish the hope that this de- 
bate, initiated by Clark University, will conduce to a much-needed 
clearing up of ideas and aims, and will mark a definite, and perhaps 
a great advance in man's attitude towards an elusive, but fascinating 
and enormously important field of potential knowledge. 

Corpus Christi College, 
Oxford, England. 



PART III 

Unconvinced as Yet 



CHAPTER XI 

METAPSYCHICS AND THE INCREDULITY 
OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 



BY JOHN E. COOVER 



In a recent article, 1 suggesting an admirable metapsychic experi- 
ment, Dr. Gehrhardt reiterates " the wonder with which one must 
regard the opposition of official science, particularly psychology, to 
the new field." The opposition of the psychologist is probably strong- 
er than that of his fellow scientists because much of the detail in his 
particular field of knowledge has an especial pertinence to the evidence 
and methods of metapsychics. To understand his position, however, 
it is necessary first to examine the opposition of "official science", 
which he shares, and which springs from a persistent, sometimes de- 
scribed as an "obstinate," incredulity. 

It is a fact that official science regards the phenomena of meta- 
psychics with incredulity. It is an old fact. Official science was in- 
credulous in 1848 when the Rochester Knockings began with Cath- 
erine and Margaret Fox; it was still incredulous thirty- four years 
later, when Professor Henry Sidgwick in the first Presidential Ad- 
dress before the Society for Psychical Research said, "I say it is a 
scandal that the dispute as to the reality of these phenomena should 
still be going on, that so many competent witnesses should have de- 
clared their belief in them, that so many others should be profoundly 
interested in having the question determined, and yet that the educated 
world, as a body, should still be simply in an attitude of incredulity." 
There followed the further accumulations of evidence for a period of 
forty-four years, and Rene Sudre, 2 in an address delivered in the 
Amphitheatre of Medicine (College of France, in Paris), under the 
auspices of the School of Psychology, on March 22, 1926, exclaimed: 

Now the facts of metapsychics are reported by scientists who, from 
Crookes to Richet, are entirely accustomed to observe natural phe- 



*W. F. Gehrhardt, Sc.D.: A metapsychic experiment. Jr. Am. S. P. R., 
August, 1926, 20:502. 

"Rene Sudre: Psychical research and scientific opinion. Jr. Am. S. P. R., 
June, 1926, vol. 20, pp. 333-342. Sudre is editor of the Revue Metapsychigue. 



230 JOHN E. COOVBR 

nomena. Why, then, does their incorporation into academic science 
meet such resistance? 

Thus the results of all the researches in metapsychics during the 
past three-quarters of a century have failed to break down the in- 
credulity of official science. Still more definitely, official science does 
not accept a single phenomenon of any one of the three or four classes 
of metapsychic phenomena, notwithstanding that some men of science 
who have engaged in metapsychic investigation claim for many of the 
phenomena of the several classes "irrefragable" and "incontrovertible" 
"proof." 

What is the cause of this persistent incredulity of official science? 
Interested metapsychists have repeatedly faced this question, and of- 
fered answers; for they know that "the final test for truth is the 
agreement of experts," that the standard of evidence must be drawn 
from the recognized sciences, and that to prevent a miserable failure 
metapsychics must produce evidence that will convince the scientific 
world. To remove this incredulity, its cause must be found and re- 
moved. Until this is done, metapsychics stands without the pale of 
the accredited sciences. This is the most serious problem of meta- 
psychics. It has always been its most important problem, whether 
fully recognized or not, and as the years of opportunity have passed, 
and the incredulity of official science has remained persistent, it has be- 
come more and more serious, acute, menacing. For half a century, 
there has been earnest and persistent, individual and collective, effort 
to adopt and maintain scientific standards in metapsychic research, 
to make metapsychic research indistinguishable from scientific re- 
search, in the hope of solving this problem, of winning an honored 
place among the established sciences, without avail. 

Various causes of the incredulity of official science are suggested by 
recent writers. Rene Sudre says that 

the skeptics' negation is an a priori one ; a state of mind arising out of 
no conscientious examination of the facts. . . Telepathy and clair- 
voyance are no longer seriously denied by anybody . . . We wish a 
scientific audience. We demand but a simple effort of good will yes, 
let us say it, of honesty ; for it is not honest to deny without trying to 
examine fairly. 

He thinks official science is incredulous because, (1) it fears 
miracles, fears facts refractory to accepted principles; (2) its phil- 
osophy is materialistic, regarding mind as epiphenomenal, and the 
laws of material science as inviolate and alone competent to explain 



MBTAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 231 

all the phenomena of the universe; and (3) its repugnance for phe- 
nomena long associated with superstition, arising from his knowledge 
(a) of the role of illusion and fraud, (b) of the will to believe, (c) 
of the concomitant variation between precautions against fraud and 
sparsity of phenomena, (d) of the uniform failure of noteworthy de- 
cisive tests. 

He discounts these reasons for incredulity, on the grounds that new 
phenomena are being constantly assimilated by official science, that 
biological and psychological phenomena are granted principles that 
range beyond the laws of material science, that the disputed phe- 
nomena have been witnessed by eminent scientists, such as Crookes 
and Richet. The causes of incredulity he is able to find do not seem 
to him adequate. There is an element of culpable negligence in the 
attitude of official science, a taint of dishonesty. His cure would be 
persuasion, further exposition of results of metapsychic experiments 
of the same character as those past and current. 

Charles Richet, the eminent physiologist, in a recently published 
treatise on metapsychics 3 presents the arguments of official science 
against objective metapsychics: The more latitude for fraud the 
more apparent are the phenomena; all mediums have been caught in 
conscious or unconscious deception, hence fraud is always possible; 
unless one is versed in legerdemain he cannot imagine how com- 
pletely an observer can be duped; no observer can maintain con- 
tinuous attention during the two or three hours of a seance ; etc., and 
he says, "These doubts have occurred to me hundreds of times, and 
I know, better than anyone else, the full force of these arguments. 
Nevertheless, I do not think them well founded, and I am firmly con- 
vinced that there are real physical metapsychic phenomena." 

Richet confesses that the innumerable experiments published by 
eminent men of science would not have convinced him, if he had not 
himself been a witness of the four fundamental facts of Metapsy- 
chics. He says he was an unwilling witness, very critical, distrustful 
of the facts that forced themselves upon him. That he, nevertheless, 
was able to verify those facts, under exceptional conditions, and de- 
spite his desire to disprove them. They determined his belief, "and 
that not at once, but after long consideration, meditation, and repe- 
tition." The phenomena to which Richet gives credence, because he 
has verified them, are 



8 Charles Richet: Thirty Years of Psychical Research. Macmillan, 1923, 
15+646. 



232 JOHN E. COOVER 

1. Cryptesthesia: A faculty of cognition that differs radically 
from the usual sensorial faculties, A sample of evidence: Stella, in 
the presence of G., whose family she does not know and cannot have 
known, gave the first names of his son, of his wife, of a deceased 
brother, of a living brother, of his father-in-law, and of the locality 
where he lived as a child. 

2. Telekinesis: Raps and the movement of objects without con- 
tact. While Eusapia's head and hands were held, a large melon 
weighing six pounds was moved from the sideboard to the table, the 
distance between them being over a yard. 

3. Ectoplasms: Hands, bodies, and objects seem to take shape in 
their entirety from a cloud and take all the semblance of life. Eusa- 
pia was in half-light, her left hand in my right, and her right in my 
left tightly held, and before Lodge, Myers, and Ochorowics, a third 
hand stroked my face, pinched my nose, pulled my hair, and gave a 
smack on my shoulder heard by Ochorowics, Myers, and Lodge. 

4. Premonitions: That cannot be explained by chance or per- 
spicacity, and are sometimes verified in minute detail. Alice, at 2 p.m. 
told me, for the first and only time, that I should soon give way to 
violent anger before one, two, three persons whom she designated 
with her hand as if she saw them. At 6 p.m. the unlikely and unfore- 
seeable impertinence of a person absolutely unknown to Alice provoked 
me to one of the strongest and most justifiable fits of anger of my 
whole life before two other persons, an anger that led to my receiving 
a challenge to a duel, the only one I have ever received. 

Richet in his Treatise on Metapsychics has brought together the 
tremendous amount of evidence that has accumulated during the past 
three-quarters of a century, organized it, and indexed it with ap- 
proximately 1800 names. He says he "tried to extricate the sciences 
anathematized as occult from chaos, and to put in a clear light knowl- 
edge that official science, in its pride of reputation, has refused to 
consider. It has seemed to me that the time has come to claim for 
metapsychics a place among the recognized sciences by making it con- 
form to the rigor and the logical treatment which have given them 
their authority. 

He recognizes that "scientific men will be surprised, and perhaps 
indignant"; but he thinks that a study of the evidence he presents 
will shake their incredulity. Since the facts are very strange, how- 
ever, "and clash with current scientific dogmas, the affirmations made 
will give rise to strongly adverse criticism and to mocking incredulity." 
He then presents strong argument for the acceptance of metapsychic 
phenomena: 

There are too many well-verified facts and rigorously conducted 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 233 

experiments that chance, illusion, or fraud should always be at- 
tributed to all these facts and experiments without exception, (p. 595) 

It is not possible that all these observers [200 competent scientists, 
and a thousand others] should never have made mistakes, but the 
whole constitutes a sheaf of testimony so large and homogeneous that 
no criticism of details, however acute, will be able to disintegrate 
and disperse, (p. 599) 

To suppose that all metapsychics are but illusion is to suppose that 
[twenty named eminent scientists] were all, without exception, liars 
or imbeciles; it is to suppose that two hundred distinguished observers 
less eminent, perhaps, but persons of high and acute intelligence, were 
also liars or imbeciles, (p. 600) 

I shall refer later to the sheaf of testimony as the "fagot theory", 
and consider the possibility of complete and wholesale delusion. 

Richet is candid and forceful. He points out that the business of 
science is to establish positive facts, not to formulate negations; that 
at every moment she is confronted with profound mysteries. 

Therefore when new facts supported by many irrefragable proofs 
are brought forward, the new facts being positive facts that do not 
contradict old positive facts, lovers of truth ought to bow before them 
and receive them joyfully, (p. 600) 

To admit telekinesis and ectoplasms is not to destroy even the 
smallest fragment of science; it is but to admit new data, and that 
these are unknown energies. . . .That a hand having all the at- 
tributes of a living hand should be formed from a whitish cloud in no 
way nullifies the laws of circulation, nutrition, and structure of a 
normal hand. It is a new fact but not a contradictory one. (p. 601) 

Richet freely grants that these phenomena are not understood; 
that "the more we try to analyze Cryptesthesia the less we understand 
it" (p. 614) ; "its modalities and its mechanism escape us entirely." 
(p. 615). And, "as regards the substance of materializations our ig- 
norance is painful." (p. 476). He is sanguine, however, of important 
contributions to scientific knowledge, and declares, "We must ad- 
vance resolutely, using exact scientific methods." (p. 624). 

Richet pleads for the acceptance of the phenomena on the grounds 
of the evidence for their occurrence, not because they are in any way 
understood. This appears to be a curious position, and raises a question 
concerning the quality of the evidence. If the evidence for occur- 
rence is sound, scientific results are already obtained, and no anxiety 
should be felt lest they be disregarded by official science. Resolute 
advance, by "using scientific methods", would make important con- 
tributions to scientific knowledge, and the incredulity of official 
science would gradually disappear. But is the evidence for a phe- 



234 JOHN E. COOVBR 

nomenon really sound if nothing concerning the phenomenon is re- 
vealed but its occurrence? Is this not the essential characteristic of 
illusion and hallucination? Official science quite probably takes this 
stand. 

II 

Whatever the causes the metapsychists find responsible for the ob- 
stinate incredulity of official science, they are weighed and found 
wanting ; and it is possible either that undiscovered causes remain, or 
that there is some error in estimating the weight of those found. 

The conservatism of official science in its admission of new facts 
is a natural precaution against error and the waste of time and energy. 
The evidence for the new phenomenon will have had to meet the 
requirements for rigorous proof. It is a curious fact that during 
the past half-century, many new facts have been presented with 
proper credentials and have been admitted; some of them were very 
strange and were revolutionary in their effects upon current laws 
of nature, but none of them were metapsychic. Conservatism cannot 
be an unjust cause of the incredulity. 

General indifference of official science to metapsychic phenomena 
may be granted, but the indifference has not been complete. For 
three-quarters of a century distinguished men of science have given 
occasional professional attention to them and have investigated them 
with negative results. And many other intelligent observers have 
from time to time seen and reported natural methods of producing 
what were currently accepted as supernormal phenomena. 

The persistence of this stream of negative evidence has had the ef- 
fect of strengthening the incredulity of official science : 

1. Fraud is not only frequent and general, but it is witnessed 
and published. 

2. Astute, and sometimes eminent, observers even scientists 
witness the same phenomena and pronounce them metapsychic. 

3. Some of the more eminent scientists have persisted in main- 
taining the validity of their observations at the same time that they 
were cognizant of the adverse reports of other observers upon the 
same phenomena, and cognizant of the disabilities of observation and 
report of phenomena produced under the identically restricted con- 
ditions, pointing with confidence to the corroboration of their ob- 
servations by independent witnesses in other places at other times. 

4. A reliance upon the corroboratory testimony of others often 
increases the confidence of a scientist in his own observations to the 



MBTAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 235 

extent of weakening the rigor with which he may reasonably be ex- 
pected to guard against fraud. 

The application of each of these four points may be shown in the 
investigation of "raps", for which eminent scientists have presented 
"irrefragable proof," and which of all telekinetic phenomena Richet 
wisely suggests are most worthy of study. The observations upon 
raps will also illustrate the effect of the stream of negative evidence 
upon the incredulity of official science. 

It will be recalled that raps started the movement known as 
Modern Spiritualism, in Hydesville, New York, in March, 1848, in 
a family consisting of John D. Fox, his wife Margaret, and their 
two younger daughters, Margaret aged fourteen, and Catherine aged 
twelve. Owing to the annoyance of curious crowds that swarmed the 
premises, Kate was sent to the neighboring city of Rochester to stay 
with her sister Mrs. Fish, and Maggie was sent to her brother's 
farm. The raps followed the girls and the Rochester Knockings 
soon became the object of public investigation. Three public meet- 
ings were held in Corinthian Hall, in November, 1848, to receive the 
reports of investigating committees appointed from the floor. With 
each report confessing failure to determine a natural cause for the 
raps, the excitement grew until it flared into a sensation that spread 
over the world and, much abated, has continued to the present time, 

( 1 ) The chairman of the last Committee was Dr. E. P. Lang- 
worthy, a young physician in Rochester, who took further oppor- 
tunity to investigate these raps, and reported his results to the New 
York Excelsior, February 2, 1850. The knockings were always 
under the Fox girls' feet, or if upon doors or tables their dresses were 
in contact with the objects rapped. He concluded that the mysterious 
rapping was so intimately connected with the persons of these girls 
that they voluntarily produced them. 

(2) John W. Hurn, of Rochester, wrote a number of articles to 
the New York Tribune, during January and February, 1850. He 
related that the Fox girls could get no sounds when they were com- 
pletely isolated from the floor, claimed that the whole affair was the 
most miserable imposition ever attempted upon a civilized community, 
that he had entered into an agreement with the girls to procure ink 
to use on walls that would appear visible after a short time, and to 
deliver spirit blows to the heads of sitters. 

(3) The Rev. John fyl. Austin, of Auburn, wrote to the Tribune, 
March 27, 1850, saying that he had been three times to hear the 
sounds, but thought they were made by human agency. He had re- 
liable information that "persons in Auburn" could make all these 
knockings with the cracking of the toe joints, without any movement 
the eye can detect. 



236 JOHN B. COOVER 

(4) The Rev. Dr. Potts delivered a lecture in Rochester in 
December, 1850, announcing the toe-joint theory. He stood upon 
the stage in Corinthian Hall and demonstrated the raps by cracking 
his toes. 

(5) The Rev. C. Chauncey Burr wrote to the New York Tribune, 
January 2, 1851, saying that he not only discovered how the rappings 
are produced, but by much practice he learned to produce them him- 
self, in a manner that no person could detect, if he chose to impose 
upon his credulity, and so loud that they were heard in every part 
of a hall crowded with an audience of a thousand people. He made 
the raps by snapping the toe- joints. 

(6) Three Buffalo University professors, Austin Flint, M.D., 
Charles A. Lee, M.D., and C. B. Coventry, M.D., investigated the 
raps of Margaret Fox in the Phelps House and reported their results 
to the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, February 18, 1851, and the 
Buffalo Medical Journal for March. They immediately saw by ob- 
serving the countenance that the raps were the result of voluntary 
effort, and concluded that they were made by the dislocation of bones 
at the joints : knees, ankles, toes, or hips. They studied the mechanism 
in a patient who could make the raps with her knee-joints and made 
a medical report. They observed that the anatomical and physio- 
logical books had neglected articular sounds a circumstance that 
permitted the deception practiced by the Fox girls to gain headway. 

(7) At another sitting at the Phelps House, for the purpose of 
resisting the damaging report of the Buffalo Professors, Mrs. Fish 
and Margaret Fox produced phenomena in profusion for the gratifi- 
cation of friends and believers. But that sitting is listed here because 
a frank reason was given for a cardinal principle of control in the 
seance : Question : What is the use of these demonstrations ? Answer : 
They are made to prove the mediums have no agency in it. Mr. 
Stringham: May I leave the table whilst the others remain, that 
I may look under and see the bells ring? Answer: What do you 
think we require you to sit close to the table for? When spirits make 
these physical demonstrations they are compelled to assume shapes 
which the human eyes must not look upon. 

(8) Mrs. Culver, a relative by marriage to the Fox girls, made 
a signed statement before witnesses April 17, 1851, explaining the 
fraud. She had helped Catherine by touching her when the right 
letters came in the calling of the alphabet, and Catherine showed her 
how to make the raps by snapping the toes. She also said that Mar- 
garet told her that when people insisted on seeing her feet and toes, 
she could produce a few raps with her knees and ankles. 

(9) Professor Henry and Professor Page, of the Smithsonian 
Institute, visited the Fox sisters when they were in Washington, in 
February, 1853. Professor Page published the results of his obser- 
vations in a book issued later in the year. He remarked that he was 
surprised to notice how the scrutinizing powers of the most astute 
fail as soon as they entertain the remotest idea of the supernatural in 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 237 

these cases. After many experiments, he concluded definitely that the 
sounds were entirely at the control of the girls. Every rap was at- 
tended with a slight movement of the person of the rapper. A very 
distinct motion of the dress was visible about the right hypogastric 
region. He declared that there was no necessity for wonderment on 
account of the rapping sounds so long as one is excluded from a per- 
sonal examination of the rappers. 

(10) Rev. H. O. Sheldon, of Berea, Ohio, spent some time in- 
vestigating the subject. The mediums that he detected rapped by 
snapping their toes. 

(11) Three Professors of Harvard College, Agassiz, Peirce, and 
Horsford, composed a part of an investigating committee appointed 
to pass upon phenomena offered to win a prize of five hundred dollars 
put up by the Boston Courier, in June, 1857. Mrs. Leah Fox Fish 
Brown and Catherine Fox were the first mediums to be employed. 
Agassiz declared with emphasis that there was an easy physiological 
explanation of all the effects that the Fox sisters, or any other rappers, 
produced. The Editor, Mr. George Lunt, issued a report in a pamph- 
let dated 1859. Whenever conditions were favorable for obser- 
vation, the raps did not come ; when they were not, they came in pro- 
fusion. Mr. Clark, assistant to Agassiz, produced raps on a box 
with his knuckles in a way that could not be detected. Agassiz said 
the taps of the mediums were produced by the bones of the feet. 

(12) The Seybert Commission of the University of Pennsylvania 
investigated the raps produced through Margaret Fox Kane, in 
November, 1884, and "Dr." Henry Slade, in February, 1885. Pro- 
fessor Furness placed his hand upon one of the feet of Margaret Fox 
and distinctly felt pulsations in her foot, but no movement, while 
the raps were being produced. Both Miss Fox and Slade knew when 
other raps than their own were produced, no matter how similar 
in sound. 

(13) In May, 1888, Margaret Fox Kane sent from London a 
letter to the New York Herald, in which she said, "Spiritualism is a 
curse ... Fanatics like Mr. Luther R. Marsh, Mr. John L. O'Sul- 
livan, ex-Minister to Portugal, and hundreds equally as learned, 
ignore the Mappings' (which is the only part of the phenomena that 
is worthy of notice) and rush madly after the glaring humbugs that 
flood New York. . . Like old Judge Edmonds and Mr. Seybert, of 
Philadelphia, they become crazed, and at the direction of their fraud 
'mediums' they are induced to part with all their worldly possessions 
as well as their common sense. . ." 

(14) After coming to New York, Margaret Fox Kane granted 
an interview to the New York Herald, in August, 1888, in which 
she said she was going to expose spiritualism from its very foundation. 
She loathed the thing she had been during her years of deception. 
She proposed to expose the raps to the public, and produced raps for 
the reporter on the floor near his feet, under his chair, under a table, 
on the other side of the door, on the legs of a piano. 



238 JOHN E. COOVER 

(15) On October 21, 1888, Margaret appeared at the Academy 
of Music in New York before a large audience, enunciated her solemn 
abjuration of spiritualism: "That I have been chiefly instrumental 
in perpetrating the fraud of spiritualism upon a too confiding public, 
most of you doubtless know. . . . The greatest sorrow of my life has 
been that this is true, and though it has come late in my day, I am 
now prepared to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the 
truth, so help me God!"... A plain wooden stool, resting upon 
four short legs, was placed before her. Removing her shoe, she placed 
her right foot upon this table. The entire house became breathlessly 
still, and was rewarded by a number of little short, sharp raps those 
mysterious sounds which for more than forty years frightened and be- 
wildered hundreds of thousands of people in this country and Europe. 
A committee, consisting of three physicians taken from the audience, 
then ascended to the stage, and having made an examination of her 
foot during the progress of the Mappings,' unhesitatingly agreed that 
the sounds were made by the action of the first joint of her large toe. 

(16) In this confession Margaret Fox Kane had the support of 
her sister, Kate Fox Jencken, who had recently returned from Europe 
and who sat in a box during the abjuration and demonstration. 

(17) Kate Fox Jencken also granted an independent interview 
to the New York papers in which she said: "Spiritualism is a hum- 
bug from beginning to end . . . The manifestations at Hydesville in 
1848 were all humbuggery, every bit of them. . . / certainly know 
that every so-called manifestation produced through me in London or 
anywhere else was a fraud. The time has come for Maggie and me 
to set ourselves right before the world . . . and not leave this base 
fabric of deceit behind us unexposed." 

It is true that these mothers of spiritism were declared com- 
pletely unbalanced, that fast living had destroyed their judgment and 
blunted their moral sense, and that their confessions were fraudulent. 
But there is a completely corroborative fact that is decisive in its 
support of the confessions And it has been almost wholly overlooked. 
When Margaret Fox and her mother were in Philadelphia, engaged 
in "spiritualistic manifestations," in 1852, Margaret met Dr. Elisha 
Kent Kane, the intrepid arctic explorer. He was much struck with 
her naivete and her danger. Margaret was eighteen and beautiful. 
In a letter to her he described his first impression of her: "A little 
Priestess, cunning in the mysteries of her temple, and weak in every- 
thing but the power with which she played her part. A sentiment 
almost of pity stole over his worldly heart as he saw through her 
disguise." He sought to remove her from her life of deception, and 
from the influence of her elder sister Mrs. Leah Fox Fish Brown 
Underbill. He wrote many letters to both herself and Kate, warning 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 239 

them of the dangers ahead of them, pleading with them to turn to 
a good life before the shackles became too strong, and offering them 
help. They agreed, and he put Margaret in school; Katie had 
promised to live with them after Dr. Kane married Margaret. He 
was especially fearful that the "rappings" would be found out, and 
adjured them to remain faithful to their promise not to have any- 
thing to do with seances anymore. He returned from his second ex- 
pedition, married Margaret, and died. 

(18) Margaret Fox Kane, in 1888, said: "From the first of our 
intimate acquaintance, Dr. Kane knew that the 'rappings' which I 
practiced were fraudulent. . . I simply obeyed the impulse of my 
candid regard for him, when the knowledge of his devotion grew 
upon me, and confided to him the whole secret of the fraud, together 
with my increasing repugnance to the life I was living." 

Here was an early confession not only made but acted upon. The 
Fox girls only repeated it to the public forty-five years later in New 
York. 

This is a part of the stream of negative evidence that undoubtedly 
supported the incredulity of official science concerning the supernormal 
nature of spiritualistic raps. And it might well extend to other 
telekinetic phenomena, or to any "manifestations" through the Fox 
sisters, the greatest mediums of the early days, in spite of the eminence 
of the witnesses. 

In the statements of Kate Fox Jencken quoted above she explains 
that all the phenomena (including raps) ever produced anywhere 
through her were fraudulent. Let us now examine the records of 
observations of her phenomena written by an eminent man of science 
who made "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism" during 
1871-74: 

With mediums, generally it is necessary to sit for a formal seance 
before anything is heard; but in the case of Miss Fox it seems only 
necessary for her to place her hand on any substance for loud thuds 
to be heard in it, like a triple pulsation, sometimes loud enough to be 
heard several rooms off. In this manner I have heard them in a 
living tree, on a sheet of glass, on a stretched iron wire, on a stretched 
membrane, on a tambourine, on the roof of a cab, and on the floor of 
a theatre. Moreover, actual contact is not always necessary: I have 
had these sounds proceeding from the floor, walls, etc., when the 
medium's hands and feet were held, when she was standing on a chair, 
when she was enclosed in a wire cage, and when she had fallen faint- 
ing on a sofa. I have heard them on a glass harmonicon, I have felt 
them on my own shoulder and under my own hands. I have heard 
them on a sheet of paper, held between the fingers by a piece of thread 



240 JOHN B. COOVER 

passed through one corner. With a full knowledge of the numerous 
theories which have been started, chiefly in America, to explain these 
sounds, I have tested them in every way that 1 could devise, until there 
has been no escape from the conviction that they were true objective 
occurrences not produced by trickery or mechanical means, (p. 86-88 ) 4 

Crookes' observations on Ectoplasm through Kate Fox: 

The first instance which I shall give took place, it is true, at a dark 
seance, but the result was not less satisfactory on that account. I 
was sitting next to the medium, Miss Fox, the only other persons 
present being my wife and a lady relative, and I was holding the 
medium's two hands in one of mine, whilst her feet were resting on 
my feet. Paper was on the table before us, and my disengaged hand 
was holding a pencil. 

A luminous hand came down from the upper part of the room, and 
after hovering near me for a few seconds, took the pencil from my 
hand, rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and 
then rose up over our heads, gradually fading into darkness, (p. 91 ) 4 

Crookes' observations on Telekinesis through Kate Fox: 

Miscellaneous occurrences of a complex character, Under this 
heading I propose to give several occurrences which cannot be other- 
wise classified owing to their complex character. Out of more than 
a dozen cases, I will select two. The first occurred in the presence 
of Miss Kate Fox. To render it intelligible I must enter into some 
details. 

Miss Fox had promised to give me a seance at my house one evening 
in the spring of last year. Whilst waiting for her, a lady relative, 
with my two eldest sons, aged fourteen and eleven, were sitting in the 
dining-room, where the seances were always held, and I was sitting 
by myself, writing in the library. Hearing a cab drive up and the 
bell ring, I opened the door to Miss Fox, and took her directly into 
the dining-room. She said she would not go upstairs, as she could not 
stay very long, but laid her bonnet and shawl on a chair in the room. 
I then went to the dining-room door, and telling the two boys to go 
into the library and proceed with their lessons, I closed the door be- 
hind them, locked it, and (according to my usual custom at seances) 
put the key in my pocket. 

We sat down, Miss Fox being on my right hand and the other lady 
on my left. An alphabetic message was soon given to turn the gas 
out, and we thereupon sat in total darkness, I holding Miss Fox's 
two hands in one of mine the whole time. Very soon a message was 
given in the following words: "We are going to bring something to 
show our power;" and almost immediately afterwards we all heard 
the tinkling of a bell, not stationary, but moving about in all parts of 



'William Crookes: Researches in the phenomena of spiritualism. London: 
Burns, 1874. 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 241 

the room ; at one time by the wall, at another in a further corner of 
the room, now touching me on the head, and now tapping against 
the floor. After ringing about the room in this manner for fully five 
minutes, it fell upon the table close to my hands. 

During the time this was going on no one moved, and Miss Fox's 
hands were perfectly quiet. I remarked that it could not be my little 
hand-bell which was ringing, for I left that in the library. (Shortly 
before Miss Fox came I had occasion to refer to a book which was 
lying on a corner of a book-shelf. The bell was on the book, and I 
put it on one side to get the book. That little incident had impressed 
on my mind the fact of the bell being in the library.) The gas was 
burning brightly in the hall outside the dining-room door, ( so that this 
could not be opened without letting light into the room, even had there 
been an accomplice in the house with a duplicate key, which there 
certainly was not. 

I struck a light. There, sure enough, was my own bell lying on 
the table before me. I went straight into the library. A glance 
showed me that the bell was not where it ought to have been. I said 
to my eldest boy, "Do you know where my little bell is?" "Yes, 
papa," he replied, "there it is," pointing to where I had left it. He 
looked up as he said this, and then continued, "No it's not there, 
but it was there a little time ago." "How do you mean? has any- 
one come in and taken it?" "No," said he, "no one has been in; but 
I am sure it was there, because when you sent us in here out of the 
dining-room, J. (the youngest boy) began ringing it so that I could 
not go on with my lessons, and I told him to stop." J. corroborated 
this, and said that, after ringing it, he put the bell down where he 
had found it. (pp. 96-98 ) 4 

Why should official science be expected to accept the fact of tele- 
kinesis, upon the basis of "irrefragable proof" of rapping or other 
phenomena produced through the mediumship of Kate Fox ? William 
Crookes does not stand alone in disclaiming the possibility of a natu- 
ral agency. Very probably the larger proportion of the 13,000 signers 
of the Memorial to Congress, in 1854, could have testified to the raps 
through this same medium producing "a sheaf of testimony" un- 
exampled by any other. Is it not possible that all of the witnesses 
for their supernormal nature have been wrong in each and every 
instance? The fagot theory is dangerous. 

If such is the case with the phenomena of the Fox sisters, can the 
phenomena of other mediums be regarded free from suspicion, even 
though "irrefragable proof" is offered by eminent scientists for them? 

In most of the summaries of evidence, phenomena of "Dr." Henry 
Slade, Miss Florence Cook, Daniel Dunglas Home, and Eusapia 



242 JOHN B. COOVBR 

Palladino are included. Official science has some negative evidence 
on all of them. 

It is well known that the great Slade was a notorious and resource- 
ful imposter, and we may record a few of the counts against him : 

(1) In 1872, Henry Slade was caught in fraud in New York by 
John W. Truesdell, who had two sittings with him. Clasping the 
medium's hands at the small seance table, and being held close to it, 
Truesdell felt something touching him and pulling at his clothing 
as if there was some one under the table; directly, the thing came up 
into his lap. Slade said it was a materialized spirit-hand. A surrepti- 
tious glance, hardly won, indicated a foot. Watching his oppor- 
tunity, when the "spirit-hand" was playing its most venturesome 
tricks, Truesdell suddenly recoiled from the table. . .just in time to 
see the "Doctor's'* left foot withdraw from his lap to the medium's 
slipper. He saw plainly the movements of the cords in the medium's 
wrist when the "spirits" were producing slate-writing. At the second 
sitting, that took place months later, T. refused to give his name, but 
left in his overcoat the name of Samuel Johnson. While waiting for 
the medium he noticed a slate hidden under a low sideboard, covered 
with a stock message, and upon it he wrote a second message in a bold 
hand: "Henry! Look out for this fellow he is up to snuff ! Alcinda" 
(the name of Slade's deceased wife). In the sitting, T. got a message 
from "Mary Johnson" on the first slate. The next slate fell to the 
floor, and, when regained, presented the double message on the sub- 
stituted slate: Slade was at first furious, but he quickly recovered, 
acknowledged T. as a great medium, and they exchanged tricks. 

(2) In 1876, Henry Slade was unmasked in London by Profes- 
sor Lankester and Dr. Donkin. They caught him in the act of sub- 
stituting a slate upon which a "spirit message" had been prepared. 
Criminal prosecution followed. After a trial at Bow Street Police 
Court lasting three days, Slade was sentenced to three months' hard 
labor. He took appeal, which was sustained, on the ground that the 
words "by palmistry or otherwise" had been omitted in the indict- 
ment. Before he could be arrested on the new summons, Slade fled 
to the continent, in 1877, and presented himself to Professor Zollner 
at Leipzig. 

(3) In 1882, Henry Slade was caught in fraud in Belleville, 
Ontario, Dr. Abbott saw Slade's heel making the raps against the 
rung of his chair. Mr. James Starling, when touched under the table 
by an ectoplasmic hand, suddenly raised his right foot; the "hand" 
felt like the calf of a leg, and on Slade's countenance there was an 
expression of pain. Mr. A. McGinnis saw the slate passing under 
the table on Slade's left foot. Chief McKinnon detected Slade 
causing telekinetic phenomena on a chair with his toe. They saw him 
writing "spirit messages," and saw him substituting slates. They con- 
fronted him with his fraud, and upon his confession and his accom- 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OP PSYCHOLOGISTS 243 

modatingly showing them his tricks, they permitted him to catch the 
noon train for the East. 

(4) In 1885, Henry Slade was caught in fraud by the Seybert 
Commission. They saw his slates with prepared messages, they saw 
him substituting the slates, they saw him making scratching motions 
with his thumb to simulate spirit writing. At the moment a slate 
had been substituted, in preparation for the long process of getting 
spirit writing, Professor Sellers asked: "Dr. Slade, will you allow 
me to see that slate?" The reply was, "No, not now; the con- 
ditions are not favorable." Professor Furness, the great Shakes- 
pearian scholar, had seen the prepared message on that slate. At the 
close of their investigation Professor Sellers said : "The methods of 
this medium's operations appear to me to be perfectly transparent, and 
I wish to say emphatically that I am astonished beyond expression at 
the confidence of this man in his ability to deceive, and at the reckless- 
ness of the risks which he assumes in his deceptions, which are prac- 
ticed in the most barefaced manner." 

(5) In 1886, Slade created a furore in Hamburg among the 
spiritualists. But he balked at tests, and was out-conjured there. 
Dr. Borchert wrote to Slade offering him one thousand marks if he 
would produce writing between locked slates, similar to the writing 
alleged to have been executed at the Zollner seances. The medium 
took no notice of the professor's letter. Slade could do nothing in the 
presence of the conjurer Carl Wilmann, and the conjurer Schradieck 
eclipsed Slade in his own tricks, making use of a "spirit hand" by 
means of his left foot, just as Slade did. 

Daniel Dunglas Home is said never to have publicly exposed in 
fraud, which may have been owing to the special protection afforded 
him by his peculiar social relations that made his observers his hosts. 
Nevertheless, there are reported charges of suspicious circumstances 
against him: 

(1) A spirit hand that could be seen against the faint light of 
the window appeared and disappeared at the edge of the table. It 
was observed to be continuous with Home's body : "The situation at 
this point struck me so forcibly the trick so plain to my eyes and 
the reverential and adoring expression of the company . . .that I 
was seized with a strong impulse to laugh." 

(2) Delia Logan, the journalist, in writing of one of Home's 
seances at the house of a nobleman in London, says that the medium 
failing to produce balls of fire tried for luminous hands. In the 
darkened house Home groped his way alone to the head of the broad 
staircase where every few minutes a pair of luminous hands were 
thrown up. The audience was satisfied generally. But the host 
stood near the mantel piece and had seen Home abstractedly place a 
small bottle upon it; he slipped the bottle into his pocket, and upon 
examination found it to contain phosphorated oil. He had seen 



244 JOHN E. COOVER 

Home's marvels and had testified to them freely, but after the dis- 
covery of the phosphorous trick he dropped him at once. 

(3) Solovovo wrote that it had always seemed to him that action 
by Home's feet was often not a very improbable hypothesis, and that 
detailed descriptions, even those of Sir William Crookes, were ex- 
tremely faulty in this particular respect. That the spirit hand was 
not a stuffed glove, at least when it worked under the table, is seen 
from AksakofFs description : "Tender but firm fingers began to work, 
trying to take off the ring ; . . . and I was fully convinced these were 
living, warm, thin human fingers/* There was no mention of the con- 
trol of Home's feet, however. All these omissions are very unfor- 
tunate. 

(4) In the action brought by Mrs. Jane Lyon, in 1867, against 
Home, for the recovery of some 30,000, the testimony convicted him 
of culpable fraud. Through ' 'spirit messages" from the deceased 
husband, Home induced the lady to (a) adopt him as her son, (b) 
set aside 24,000 to yield him an annual income of 700, (c) make 
a will giving him the arms and name of Lyon and all the property, 
and (d) make him a birthday present of 6,800. After ten days of 
trial, Vice-Chancellor Giffard decreed that the gifts and deeds were 
fraudulent and void. 

(5) Home refused Mr. Addison's offer of 50 to float in the 
air in his presence ; and he declined the Emperor Napoleon's proposal 
for Robert Houdin, the conjurer, to be present at one of his seances. 

Miss Florence Cook and Miss Showers appear to have given 
seances together which permitted Serjeant Cox to study their mate- 
rialized spirits and led to the consequent exposure of Miss Showers 
in April, 1874. 

(1) Cox studied the "spirits," "Katie" and "Florence," moving 
about together in a lighted room; he saw that they could breathe, 
talk, perspire, and eat; and that in face, complexion, gesture, and 
voice, they precisely resembled the two mediums who were asserted 
to be lying entranced behind the curtains. When the form of 
"Florence" appeared in the aperture between the curtains, Mrs. Ed- 
wards opened the curtains wider. In the spirit's struggles to pre- 
vent this, the head-dress fell off, and revealed the spirit's head as that 
of Miss Showers. The chair where the medium should have been 
sitting was seen to be empty. The medium was masquerading as 
a spirit. 

(2) At one of Florence Cook's seances, Mr. W. Volckman scru- 
tinized the form, features, gestures, size, style, and peculiarities of ut- 
terance of the so-called spirit. He grasped the spirit form and found 
he held the medium. [Crookes, who studied the phenomena of Miss 
Cook, referred to this incident as a "disgraceful occurrence" that cast 
unjust suspicion upon an innocent young woman]. 

(3) At another sitting, in a dark seance, with Miss Cook, one 
William Hipp seized the hand of the spirit which was sprinkling him 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 245 

with water, and when a light was struck found himself grasping 
the hand of the medium. 

(4) Some half a dozen years later, in 1880, Sir G. Sitwell and 
Carl von Buch seized the spirit and found it to be the medium, Mrs. 
Corner (formerly Miss Cook). 

Podmore says: 

Reading between the lines, we are forced to recognize that the con- 
fidence expressed by scientific witnesses in the genuineness of these 
"materializations" is inextricably bound up with their confidence in 
the personal integrity of the medium, and Miss Cook's later career, 
at any rate, scarcely allows us to suppose that such confidence was 
ever well founded. 

It is well known that Eusapia Palladino has been frequently caught 
in fraud, and it is said that her early training included legerdemain. 
Sitters have recognized in her an adept in conjuring. Those scientists 
who report favorably upon her phenomena recognize that the weight 
of their evidence depends upon the impossibility of fraud. 

The illustrations of suspicious circumstances of fraud that are 
brought together here constitute but a very small fraction of the 
stream of negative evidence that without doubt supports the persistent 
incredulity of official science. They are not intended to offer a means 
of estimating the full weight of all the negative evidence. Rather, 
they were chosen for the purpose of explaining why official science 
hesitates to accept the favoring results of investigations in metapsy- 
chics carried out by the most eminent scientists such as Crookes, 
Lodge, and Richet and of providing some concrete material for use 
in the constructive intimations of this exposition. 

What weight has Crookes* report on the phenomena of Kate Fox? 
Of Home? Of Miss Cook? The rating by official science is prob- 
ably just zero. The Zollner report on Henry Slade is also, even more 
positively, rated at zero. The various reports on Eusapia Palladino 
probably receive no higher rating. 

The stream of negative evidence warns official science that all 
metapsychic phenomena may be illusory; may be but physiological, 
psychological, or simple legerdemain. 

Ill 

Another cause for the incredulity of "official science" is to be found 
in the prevalent methods of metapsychic investigation, and this cause 
perhaps has much greater weight than the stream of negative evidence. 

"Unless the 'conditions' are observed, the phenomena will not ap- 



246 JOHN B. COOVER 

pear." But since this is true in all science, why does it have special 
significance in metapsychics ? Because in science the experimenter 
controls the conditions and in metapsychics the medium controls the 
conditions. In case the medium is not satisfied with the conditions 
proposed by the investigator, who in fact is only a sitter, she need not 
produce the phenomena, and she is excused on the grounds of their 
uncontrollability. 

The reports of metapsychic investigations do not always show how 
completely the control of the conditions under which the phenomena 
occur lies with the medium, and many earnest students of the litera- 
ture will be ready to dispute the fact. We can do no better than to 
examine one of the best possible cases : the classical report by Crookes 
on the phenomena of D. D. Home. 4 It reads like a laboratory re- 
port, and the natural presumption of the reader would be that the 
experiments followed laboratory procedure. 

Eighteen years after the research, Crookes, in response to earnest 
entreaty for the long promised amplified report of his investigations, 
published his notes that were written while the phenomena were 
going forward and sometimes copied or expanded immediately after. 
Curiously enough, the heading for these "Notes" carries the term 
"seances" instead of "experiments." 

The Seance of June 21st, 1871, at Mr. Crookes' house is described 
in the "Notes" as follows: 

Wednesday, June 21st, 1871. Sitting at 20, Mornington-road. 
From 10:45 to 11:45. (This seance was held shortly after the 
previous one [8:40 to 10:30 on the same evening]. We all got up, 
moved about, opened the windows, and changed our positions. 

Present: Mr. D. D. Home (medium), Mrs. Wr, Crookes, Mr. 
Wr. Crookes, Mrs. Humphrey, Mr. C. Gimingham, Mr. Serjt. Cox, 
Mr. Wm. Crookes, Mrs. Wm. Crookes. 

In the dining-room. The table and apparatus the same as before. 

The light was diminished, but there was still light enough to en- 
able us to distinguish each other plainly and see every movement. 
The apparatus was also distinctly visible. 

The automatic register was pushed up close to the index of the 
balance. 

We sat in the following order: [Cut of rectangular table, with 
positions labeled Mrs. Wm. C. sat between Home and the apparatus 
(mahogany board, etc.), and Mr. Wm. Crookes sat by the apparatus]. 

A lath was lying on the table. [A foot from the edge at which 
Home sat]. 

Almost immediately a message came, "Hands off." After sitting 
quiet for a minute or two, all holding hands, we heard loud raps on 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 247 

the table; then on the floor by the weight apparatus. The apparatus 
was then moved and the spring balance was heard to move about 
strongly. We then had the following message: 

"Weight altered a little. Look/' 

I then got up and looked at the register. It had descended to 14 
pounds, showing an additional tension of (14 S-) 9 pounds. 

As this result had been obtained when there was scarcely light 
enough to see the board and index move, I asked for it to be repeated 
when 'there was more light. The gas was turned up and we sat as 
before. Presently the board was seen to move up and down (Mr. 
Home being some distance off [sitting or standing?] and not touch- 
ing the table, his hands being held), and the index was seen to descend 
to 7 pounds, where the register stopped. This showed a tension of 
75=2 pounds. 

Mr. Home now told us to alter our position. We now sat as 
follows: [Cut of positions; Mr. Wm. Crookes is moved two places 
further from the apparatus, and Home sits by it]. 

Mr. Home thereupon moved his chair to the extreme corner of the 
table and turned his feet quite away from the apparatus close to Mrs. 
H. Loud raps were heard on the table and then on the mahogany 
board, and the latter was shaken strongly up and down. The follow- 
ing message was then given : 

"We have now done our utmost'' 

On going to the spring balance it was seen by the register to have 
descended to 9 pounds, showing an increase of tension of 4 pounds. 

The apparatus was now removed away from the table, and we re- 
turned to our old places (see first diagram). 

We sat still for a few minutes, when a message came : $ 

"Hands off the table, and all joined." 

We therefore sat as directed. 

Just in front of Mr. Home and on the table, in about the position 
shown on the first diagram, was a thin wooden lath 23^4 inches long, 
\Y2 inch wide, and % inch thick, covered with white paper. It was 
plainly visible to all, and was one foot from the edge of the table. 

Presently the end of this lath, pointing towards Mr. Wr. Crookes, 
rose up in the air to the height of about 10 inches. The other end 
then rose up to a height of about five inches, and the lath then floated 
about for more than a minute in this position, suspended in the air, 
with no visible means of support. It moved sideways and waved gent- 
ly up and down, just like a piece of wood on the top of small waves 
of the sea. The lower end then gently sank till it touched the table 
and the other end then followed. 

Whilst we were all speaking about this wonderful exhibition of 
force the lath began to move again, and rising up as it did at first, 
it waved about in a somewhat similar manner. The startling novelty 
of this movement having now worn off, we were all enabled to follow 



248 JOHN E. COOVER 

its motions with more accuracy. Mr. Home was sitting away from 
the table at least three feet from the lath all this time; he was ap- 
parently quite motionless, and his hands were tightly grasped, his 
right by Mrs. Wr. Crookes and his left by Mrs. Wm. Crookes. Any 
movement by his feet was impossible, as, owing to the large cage being 
under the table, his legs were not able to be put beneath, but were 
visible to those on each side of him. All the others had hold of hands. 
As soon as this was over the following message was given : 
patience. Mary sends love to aunt, and will play another time." 
"We have to go now; but before going we thank you for your 
The seance then broke up at a quarter to twelve, (pp. 110-112) 5 

This sample indicates that the "spirits" directed the seating, the 
order of the phenomena, the time to produce the phenomena, and the 
time to inspect the phenomena or read indicators. Looking over the 
rest of the notes, the reader learns that they regulated the amount 
of light. The behavior of the mahogany board was irregular, some- 
times swaying sideways. And the experiments of a single type were 
not generally repeated consecutively. Always much else went on: 
movement of furniture, playing of accordion, passing flowers, clothing 
tugged, and persons touched by a "spirit hand," elongation or levita- 
tion of Home's body, movement of planchette, tumbling and ringing 
of a bell, knotting of handkerchiefs, the jumping of the table in keep- 
ing time with the accordion music, writing of messages on paper, the 
movement of curtains, trembling of the table, heavy knockings, in- 
numerable raps, and many "messages." In general, we have a mul- 
tiplicity of phenomena produced in confusion, 6 very similar to those 
Slade provided Zollner; and we know that Home kept up an in- 
cessant chatter. 7 Home was the only person free to move about. 8 



'William Crookes, F.R.S.: Notes of seances with D. D. Home. Proc. S.P.R., 
1889-90, 6. 
6 I am certain that in most cases, when Home was not in a trance, he knew 

no more what was going to happen than did any one else present. Fre- 
quently he was looking another way, engaged in animated conversation with 
some one at his side, when the first movements took place, and his attention 
had to be called to them like the rest of us. (Crookes, Jr. S.P.R., 6:343.) 

7 He was an excellent raconteur, and by no means kept silent... General 
Conversation was going on all the time, and on many occasions something on 
the table had moved some time before Home was aware of it. We had to 
draw his attention to such things far oftener than he drew our attention to 
them. (Crookes, Jr. S.P.R., 6:343.) 

8 For my part I was always allowed to move about and examine what wa 
taking place as carefully as I liked. [After permission was granted?] All 
that we were asked was that we should not move suddenly. This was liable 
to stop the phenomena for a short time. (p. 343) 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 249 

Metapsychic investigations are not experiments, they are seances. 
The phenomena come unexpectedly, not just at the moment the ob- 
server is prepared to examine them carefully. Rarely are the phe- 
nomena of a decisive kind, that are asked for and prepared for, pro- 
duced. 

Crookes, before the researches, had reproved the spiritualists for 
their extravagant evidence, such as the levitation of pianos, and said 
that what the scientist yearns for is the exercise of a force of one-ten- 
thousandths of a gram on the pan of a balance that is confined in a 
closed case, the swinging of a pendulum in a glass case, the passing 
of a thousandth part of a grain of arsenic into a sealed glass tube, 
(p. 62 ) 4 . He did not get these phenomena. He does imply that an 
enclosed pendulum was set in motion, but nowhere does he describe 
the experiment. 

Zollner asked for 

1. The linking of two solid rings of different kinds of wood. 

2. The reversal of the twist in snail shells. 

3. A knot in an endless bladder band. 

4. The placing of a paraffin candle in a hollow glass ball, without 
melting the edges, (pp. 97-99 ) 9 

What he obtained was 

1. The placing of the rings on a jointed centre-post of a table. 

2. The removal of the snail shells from the top of the table to 
a slate held beneath. 

3. The entangling of the bladder band with a cord having sealed 
ends. (pp. 104-6) 9 

which he regarded as such an improvement upon what he had re- 
quested that the paraffin candle was neglected. 

Even when scientific instruments are used in metapsychic investi- 
gation, the control of the conditions of experiment remains in the 
medium's hands. 

In 1907, assistants of Professor Mosso, Doctors Herlitzka, Charles 
Foa, and Aggazzotti, held sittings with Eusapia Palladino in Turin : 

[They saw some of the usual phenomena] but the tests which they 
had specially prepared in order to render physical intervention on 
the part of Eusapia impossible unfortunately miscarried. At the first 
sitting a clockwork cylinder, covered with blackened paper, was 
placed inside a bell-glass, secured from interference by sealed tapes. 
The object of the test was to obtain a vertical mark on the cylinder ;' 



'Jahaun Carl Friedrich Zollner: Transcendental Physics; An account of 
experimental investigations. Tr. by C. C. Massey, London: Harrison, 1880, 
48-f 266 pp. 



250 JOHN B. COOVBR 

and the key of the electric circuit through which this end could be 
accomplished was enclosed in a securely fastened and sealed cardboard 
box. In the event the sealed tapes were torn off the bell-glass; the 
lid of the cardboard box was /forcibly removed, and the key then 
depressed. The test was thus rendered useless. Eusapia explained, 
however, that if woven material instead of cardboard had been used 
to protect the key, it could have been moved without interference 
with the apparatus. Acting on the hint the experimenters prepared 
for the next seance a new apparatus. Inside the cabinet was placed 
a manometer a U-shaped tube of mercury with a floating pointer 
which would automatically register any movements of the mercury 
on a scale. The tube was in connection with a vessel full of water, 
and closed with a rubber capsule. Pressure on the capsule would, 
of course, force up the mercury in the tube. The vessel of water was 
enclosed in a wooden box, the sides of which rose high above the cap- 
sule. The top of the capsule was blackened. In place of a lid the 
box was covered with cloth, so as to prevent pressure on the capsule 
by normal means. At the close of the seance the mercury was found 
to have risen; but the cloth covering was torn. (pp. 1 00-1 01 ) 10 

In the same year another series of investigations was made with 
Eusapia by Professor Bottazzi of the University of Naples: 

No trouble was spared to test the phenomena and ascertain the 
conditions. At the beginning of each sitting the barometric pressure, 
the temperature, and the atmospheric saturation were recorded. Sev- 
eral pieces of apparatus a letter balance, an electrical metronome, a 
commutator, a rubber ball in connection with a manometer were 
placed on a table in the cabinet behind Eusapia, in connection with 
automatic registering machinery in another room; and in the course 
of the seance several movements were registered of which the tracings 
are published. Other inexplicable phenomena were observed, such as 
a mandolin moving about by itself on the table, whilst Eusapia's hands 
lay in her lap. But again the only really conclusive test failed. A 
telegraph key had been securely enclosed in a wire cage, and this 
Eusapia and her spirit control 'John* were unable to move. (pp. 
lOlf) 10 

Forty-three sittings with Eusapia were held under the auspices 
of the Institute General Psychologique in Paris : 

The investigators loyally complied with the conditions imposed, but 
sought in various ways to devise tests which should still be valid. The 
really valuable part of their report is the history of the successive re- 
jections or evasions of their tests by Eusapia. At one time they sug- 
gested that the sleeves of the medium should be sewn to the sleeves 
of the controllers' coats by tapes four inches long. She accepted this 
method of control on three occasions only one in each year and 



"Frank Podmore: The Newer Spiritualism. Loodon: Unwin, 1910, 320 pp. 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 251 

then refused to have anything more to do with it, giving as her 
reason that she had seen lunatics fastened together in this manner in 
an asylum, and that the recollection was unbearable, (p. 105 ) 10 

They tested Eusapia's alleged power of affecting the balance with- 
out touching it. At first a small machine, like a letter weigher, de- 
signed by M. Yourievitch, was employed. It was surrounded with 
a wooden frame, with linen or wooden panels to fit in the frame, so 
as to prevent the use of a hair or other fraudulent device. Eusapia 
tried it with the wooden covering and failed ; tried it with the linen 
covering and failed ; tried it with the frame alone and failed. All the 
protecting apparatus was then removed. Eusapia put her hands on 
either side of the scale and it went down, and the onlookers could not 
find out how it was done. Nothing daunted, M. Yourievitch then 
procured a more delicate balance (pese-cocon) and surrounded it 
with a panelled glass lantern. M. Yourievitch further isolated the 
balance on a cake of wax, and put it in connection with a charged 
electroscope, so that if Eusapia touched the balance the fraud would 
be instantly detected. No result. All the glass panels were then 
removed except the one next Eusapia. Still no result. The last panel 
was then taken away, a handkerchief being placed over Eusapia's 
mouth to prevent her breath affecting the sensitive balance. She 
stretched out her hands as before, and once more the scale moved; 
but the electroscope was not discharged. Twice more the same re- 
sults followed. Then in consequence of some suspicious move- 
ments observed by Madame Curie and another member of the Com- 
mittee the light was raised (our first intimation that the previous 
experiments took place in partial obscurity), and an arch of thick 
wire was placed in front of the balance. The balance moved no 
more, and Eusapia said she was tired. 

Now, Madame Curie and her colleagues had suspected from the 
position of Eusapia's hands that she might have effected the move- 
ment by means of a fine thread, and in fact, on experimenting after- 
wards, it was found that the scale could be depressed by means of 
a hair without discharging the electroscope. After this experience 
M. Yourievitch coated the scale with lamp-black, on which even the 
pressure of a hair would leave a mark and the balance moved 
no more. 

They then tried again with the other balance, replacing the metal- 
lic scale by a disc of paper in a wooden frame. If a pin were used, 
the paper would be pierced ; if a hair, it would crackle. In fact, the 
balance moved once, when Eusapia's hands were held but the paper 
crackled ! 

On another occasion Eusapia asked that her hands might be held, 
and in this position she placed her hands on either side of the leaf 
of an indiarubber plant, and the leaf was seen to move. Unfortunate- 
ly for her she had forgotten her usual precaution ; an isolated observer 



252 JOHN B. COOVBR 

saw the hair between her hands. She was detected on another oc- 
casion moving the balance by the same means, (pp. 108-109) 10 

The investigator who introduces instruments of precision meets 
special difficulties when the medium retains control of the laboratory. 
He is merely a sitter in a seance. 

The distinction must be made between (A) parlor observations 
under seance conditions, that yield at best but anecdotal evidence, and 
(B) scientific observations under laboratory conditions, that yield 
evidence acceptable to "official science." We must regard scientific 
method. 

A. Under seance conditions, proper observation is precluded by 
the 

a. Multiplicity of phenomena, 

b. Unexpectedness of each event, 

c. Distraction of synchronous phenomena or discourse, 

d. Demand on attention for several hours continuously, 

e. Dim light, 

f. Lack of essential instruments, 

g. Lack of control of the conditions, 
h. Emotional atmosphere, 

i. Taking of inadequate notes while phenomena are occurring. 

The observer cannot be prepared to observe a specific occurrence, 
for he doesn't know what is corning next ; any observation is con- 
sequently incidental, out of the tail of the eye, or in peripheral vision. 
Incidental observation in poor light for two continuous hours, amid 
distractions addressed to both eyes and ears, and attention often mis- 
directed, favors inference in description and becomes mal-observation. 
With the medium in control of the conditions, no instruments to as- 
sist the senses can be used to certain advantage. The report at best 
can be but anecdotal. 

B. Under laboratory conditions, proper observation is carefully 
provided for by 

a. Selecting as simple a phenomenon aS possible, 

b. Providing a definite moment for its occurrence, 

c. Excluding as much distraction as possible, 

d. Limiting the time for concentrated attention, 

e. Adapting most favorable lighting, 

f. Utilizing all essential instruments, 

g. Keeping complete control of the conditions, 
h. Excluding emotional elements. 

i. Recording correctly after the phenomenon has occurred. 

The experimenter is prepared to observe the specific event at the 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 253 

moment it occurs. He gives concentrated attention, and his attention 
is directed to it. Immediately after he "observes accurately," he 
"records correctly" by taking care to exclude inference from his de- 
scription. With the conditions of experiment under his control, he 
can vary them at his pleasure and repeat the experiment as often as 
is necessary to reach a decisive, a reliable, result. His report is 
scientific. 

The attitude in the seance is that of blind faith ; in the laboratory, 
of precaution. The closer the scrutiny, in the seance, the less you 
learn; in the laboratory, the more you learn. Cooperation in the 
seance is simulated ; in the laboratory, effected. The purpose in the 
seance is to conceal causes ; in the laboratory, to reveal them. 

The charge has often been made, and in itemized detail, that the 
rules of the seance enforce the conditions precisely favorable for fraud. 
And it is a curious fact, briefly suggested in the contrasted lists above, 
that if all the requirements in scientific method are formally set down 
in a list, and their opposites are then formally set down, the second 
list gives the method of the seance. Whereas the rules of the seance 
grew up empirically in the course of the practice of years, it is cer- 
tainly suggestive that they may be logically deduced by the principle 
of negation from the method upon which we depend to acquire knowl- 
edge in all the fields of science. 

The "obstinate incredulity" of "official science" must be largely 
attributed to the seance method of investigation to which metapsy- 
chics has been almost wholly confined. 

For three quarters of a century, evidence has been accumulating in 
metapsychics, and many eminent scientists have contributed to this 
evidence. The most constant factor in the investigations whether 
by laymen, public committees, academic committees, metapsychists, or 
scientists, during all this time, is the method of the seance. There is 
no agreement upon the nature, or the description, of a single phe- 
nomen in metapsychics; there is nothing constant in the "how" of 
any of the phenomena. There is agreement only "that" phenomena 
occur that no one can yet describe or explain. The full yield of the 
seance method is the conviction in the minds of metapsychists that 
unknown phenomena occur. 

"Official science" without doubt will refuse to recognize even the 
"fact" that the alleged phenomena occur until it is established by the 
scientific method, which at the time of revealing the fact of occurrence 
will also reveal something of the nature of the phenomena. The 



254 JOHN E. COOVER 

eminence of men of science will not outweigh the disabilities of the 
seance method. 

IV 

The incredulity of the experimental psychologist is probably more 
obstinate than that of his fellow scientists. All of these metapsychic 
phenomena seem to be associated with the mind of a medium, and the 
reports are dependent upon the mind of the observer. A large propor- 
tion of the evidence offered for metapsychic phenomena can be im- 
mediately written off in accordance with the psychology of deception 
and the psychology of testimony. The liability of error in seance 
observations is very great, much greater than is generally granted. 
An eminent scientist may be wrong in his observation, even re- 
peatedly wrong, as Crookes certainly was, without being "either a 
knave or a fool"; and to charge him with error, is by no means to 
call him "either a liar or an imbecile." 

The case and completeness of deception have been amply illustrated 
by seances held for the purpose of studying the extent and nature of 
mal-observation : 

David J. Halstead, proprietor of the Syracuse Daily Courier, re- 
ported to that paper what he saw at a sitting with Truesdell, a 
prominent young businessman of Syracuse: 

The table cloth was removed from the table ; upon the table were 
placed a plain slate with a bit of pencil, and some writing paper also 
with a bit of lead pencil. Two tureen covers were brought, one 
placed over the slate, the other over the paper. A sitter went to 
another room and wrote names of deceased persons on slips of paper 
which he brought back tightly folded into pellets. 

The medium placed these pellets to his forehead, and called out 
signals at letter after letter, to be recorded, while the sitter repeated 
the alphabet. In this way the name "Adelbert" was communicated. 
The selected pellet was unfolded and revealed that name on it. 

After writing-sounds, located under the tureen cover on the slate, 
had ceased, the cover was removed and a message of twelve or more 
lines, pertinent to the evening's experiment, was found on the slate, 
and it was signed "Adelbert." 

The medium rubbed his arm, rolled up his sleeve, and showed 
glowing flesh upon which was recorded in pale skin the name 
"Adelbert." 

All occurred under full gas light (and by legerdemain), (pp. 
160-9) 11 



"John W. Truesdell: The Bottom Facts concerning the Science of Spiritual- 
ism. N. Y.: Dillingham, 1892, 351 pp. 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 255 

Mr. L. W. Chase, a spiritualist, reported to the Syracuse Daily 
Courier, of December 7, 1872, the results of a sitting with Truesdell: 

Chase went into an adjoining room to write down names of de- 
ceased friends, on slips of paper to be folded into pellets. "On re- 
entering the room he [T.] called out, "This is all fraud ; Caroline C. 
is not dead, but your sister Charlotte is. If you wish to get anything 
at all, you must deal honestly with me. . . Imagine my chagrin. . . 
I am entirely satisfied that no mortal eye save my own rested upon 
the names I had written, and still held tightly folded in my hand, 
nor did a live soul in the city of Syracuse know the relations of 
these individuals to myself." 

He received on the under surface of a slate lying on the table, in 
the full glare of gaslight, a message: "My dear Brother: You strive 
in vain to unlock the hidden mysteries of the future. No mortal 
has faculties to comprehend infinity. Charlotte." The message was 
characteristic of his sister, and the handwriting "so closely resembled 
her's that, to my mind, there cannot be a shadow of doubt as to its 
identity." He also received a message from his mother in her own 
handwriting on a sheet of paper. The time is not far distant when 
"to doubt upon this subject will not only evince greater credulity than 
to believe, but will necessarily destroy all confidence in our senses." 

"I think, Mr. Editor, if men of science are anxious to investigate 
(in an honest manner) . . .here is an excellent opportunity. . ." 

Mr. Chase was a stranger; he appeared to be an honest, earnest, 
seeker after spiritual knowledge. He called upon Truesdell at the 
moment the latter was closing his office for the day, and requested 
and appointment for a sitting. Mr. Truesdell tried to dissuade him, 
protesting that he was merely an amateur investigating for amuse- 
ment and instruction, that all reports about him were greatly exag- 
gerated, and that science would probably reveal the true origin of the 
phenomena to be of a material, instead of a spiritual, nature. The 
more he protested, the more earnestly Chase begged for a sitting, 
and when Truesdell noticed the large diary in which Chase made 
one or two memoranda, he reluctantly made an appointment for a 
sitting in the evening at his home. Before they left the office, how- 
ever, Truesdell turned on the draft of the coal-stove, compelling the 
perspiring visitor to remove his overcoat, and examined that diary 
and a letter from Chase's sister (while Chase was engaged with a 
book in the adjoining room). 

Truesdell explains the phenomena of the sitting at his home : The 
ballots were exchanged for blanks by palming, and were read; the 
message was prepared and the slate substituted ; the movement of the 
slate was effected by a thread tied to a vest-button ; the sound of the 
writing was produced by the rubbing of a slate-pencil, held by silk 
loops to the knee, against another pencil clamped to the flange of the 
table, (pp. 184-203) 11 



256 JOHN B. COOVER 

Richard Hodgson had some sittings with Eglinton, in 1884, and 
endeavored to make detailed records of the phenomena. .For the first 
time, he said, he appreciated the difficulties of observation and of re- 
collection of such events; they seemed so great as to effectually pre- 
vent a full and accurate description, (p. 382) 12 He arranged with 
S. J. Davey to give seances to ascertain exactly how much reliance 
could be placed upon the reports of even acute and intelligent ob- 
servers. 

Mr. Davey, who was first attracted to seance phenomena by re- 
ports of Eglinton, was so amazed at the ease with which that medium 
deceived his sitters that he set to work at seance technique to see how 
much he could perform by legerdemain that would be recognized as 
supernormal. Spiritist reports were soon so glowing that he was ac- 
cepted as one of the great mediums. After the Hodgson-Davey in- 
vestigation, Alfred Russell Wallace declared that the findings of that 
investigation could not be accepted until it is proved that Davey is 
not a genuine medium, pretending that he uses legerdemain. 

The reports of seance phenomena produced by Davey were writ- 
ten by educated and intelligent witnesses immediately after the seance. 
A single small sample follows : 

Mrs. Y.: This test seemed to me perfect. The slate was under 
my own eye, on top of the table, the whole time, and either my 
daughter's hand or my own was placed firmly upon it without the in- 
termission of even a second; moreover, we closed and opened it our- 
selves, (p. 44 ) 13 

Nevertheless, the substitution occured, and Hodgson saw it. Hodg- 
son also saw Davey write the message on the slate in the morning. 

The results completely discredit the reliability of records of seance 
phenomena, upon the grounds of mal-observation. In addition to 
these illusions of perception, Hodgson emphasizes illusions of memory 
which affect descriptions written weeks or months after the events. 12 

Henry Sidgwick and Mrs. Sidgwick's sister attended a seance by 
Haxby, in 1878, and observed phenomena that created a complete 
illusion of perception in Mr. X. : 

Mrs. Sidgwick's sister said: Abdullah professed to dematerialize 



Richard Hodgson: The possibilities of mal-observation and lapse of 
memory, from a practical point of view. Proc. S.P.R., 1886-87, 4:381ff.; 1892, 
8:253ff. This significant report should be read and studied by all meta- 
psychists. 

18 Jr. S.P.R., 1891, 5. 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 257 

before us once as at the previous seance. My head was only about 
\Y^ feet from him, and I saw him go through the same processess as 
he did then. I saw his arms plainly till he was right down on the floor. 
Then he put up his hands to the cloth on his head bringing the part 
hanging behind over the top and front, to hide the tiara, and then 
pulled the whole off his head, the white cloth remaining as the last 
bit of Abdullah for a few moments. I saw his hair plainly as the 
cloth came off, and also his back inside the curtains. 

Before this seance all the members of the circle, including an en- 
thusiastic spiritist [Mr. X.], had been told what to expect. 

Mr. Sidgwick said: I was seated at the farthest point in the 
circle ; at the same time in witnessing Abdullah's disappearance I waa 
unable even to imagining it anything else than the medium withdraw- 
ing gradually into the cabinet, having first fallen on his knees, and 
then gradually lowering his head. But Mr. X, who sat nearly as 
far off as, but certainly not farther than, I did, remarked when the 
performance was over that "All our doubts must now be removed," 
and afterwards to Mr. H., on going away, that our materializations 
were better than theirs in Paris. 

Experiences like this make one feel how misleading the accounts 
of some completely honest witnesses may be. . . And after all it ap- 
pears that those marvelous seances [in Paris] were no better than this 
miserable personation by Haxby. (pp. 61-2) 14 

Many illustrations of the illusion of memory may be found in the 
literature. But three will be quoted. The first two relate to the 
phenomena of D. D. Home. 

Sir David Brewster. with Lord Brougham, attended a sitting with 
Home in Cox's Hotel, in 1855. In his diary he recorded: 

A small hand-bell was then laid down with its mouth on the carpet ; 
and after lying for some time, it actually rang when nothing could 
have touched it. The bell was then placed on the other side, and it 
came over to me and placed itself in my hand . . . Could give no 
explanation. . . 

Four months later he wrote a letter to the Morning Advertiser, 
October 12, 1855: 

Round table covered with copious drapery beneath which nobody 
was allowed to look. The spirits were powerless aboveboard. . . A 
small hand-bell, to be rung by spirits, was placed on the ground near 
my feet. I placed my feet round it in the form of an angle, to catch 
any intrusive apparatus. The bell did not ring; but when taken to 
a new place near Mr. Home's feet, it speedily came across and placed 



"Mrs. Henry Sidgwick: Results of a personal investigation into the phys- 
ical phenomena of spiritualism, with some critical remarks on the evidence 
for the genuineness of such phenomena. Proc. S.P.R., 1886-87, 4:45ff. 



258 JOHN E. COOVER 

itself in my hand... Conjecture it was done by Home's feet. 
(II. pp. 142-3 ) 15 

An alternative explanation of the contrast between the two accounts 
of the same phenomena, given above, is that, upon reflection, the sen- 
sorial memory responsible for the first account was discredited. What- 
ever the explanation, the reliability of testimony remains impaired. 

In the "Researches," William Crookes reports the behavior of the 
wooden lath as follows : 

A small lath . . . moved across the table to me, in the light, and 
delivered a message to me by tapping my hand; / repeating the al- 
phabet, and the lath tapping me at the right letters. The other end 
of the lath was resting on the table, some distance from Mr. Home's 
hands. 

The taps were so sharp and clear, and the lath was evidently so 
well under the control of the invisible power which was governing 
its movements, that I said, "Can the intelligence governing the mo- 
tion of this lath change the character of the movements, and give me 
a telegraphic message through the Morse alphabet by taps on my 
hand?" (I have every reason to believe that the Morse code was 
quite unknown to any other person present, and it was only imper- 
fectly known to me.) Immediately I said this, the character of the 
taps changed, and the message was continued in the way I had re- 
quested. The letters were given too rapidly for me to do more than 
catch a word here and there, and consequently I lost the message ; but 
/ heard sufficient to convince me that there was a good Morse opera- 
tor at the other end of the line, wherever that might be. 4 

Crookes, in his "Notes" published eighteen years later, but recorded 
on the spot, reported as follows : 

The wooden lath now rose from the table and rested one end on 
my knuckles, the other end being on the table. It then rose up and 
tapped me several times. Questions which I put were answered 
"Yes" or "No" in this manner. I said, "Do you know the Morse 
alphabet?" "Yes." "Could you give me a message by it?" "Yes." 
As soon as this was rapped out the lath commenced rapping my 
knuckles in long and short taps, in a manner exactly resembling a 
"Morse" message. My knowledge of the code and of reading by 
sound is not sufficient to enable me to say positively that it was a 
message; but it sounded exactly like one ; the long and short taps and 
the pauses were exactly similar, and Mr. C. Gimingham t who has 
practice with the Morse code t feels almost certain that it was so. 
( PP . 123-4)5 

Sir Edmund Hornby, formerly Chief Judge of the Supreme Con- 



"Frank Podmore: Modern Spiritualism. 2 vol. Lon.: Methuen & Co., 1902. 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 259 

sular Court of China and Japan, at Shanghai, provides the third il- 
lustration of illusion of memory. In this case dream elements very 
probably enter to alter the events as experienced : 

He described events occurring on the night of January 19, 1875. 
It had been his habit to allow reporters to come to his house in the 
evening to get his written judgments for the next day's paper. 

On the day of the event he went to his study an hour or two after 
dinner and wrote out his judgment. 

"I rang for the butler, gave him the envelope, and told him to give 
it to the reporter who should call for it. I was in bed before twelve... 
I had gone to sleep, when I was awakened by hearing a tap at the 
study door, but thinking it might be the butler looking to see if the 
fires were safe and the gas turned off I turned over ... to sleep again. 
Before I did so, I heard a tap at my bedroom door. Still thinking it 
the butler. . .1 said, 'Come in.' The door opened, and, to my sur- 
prise, in walked Mr. > I sat up and said, 'You have mistaken 

the door; but the butler has the judgment, so go and get it. Instead 

of leaving the room he came to the foot of the bed. I said, 'Mr. , 

you forget yourself ! Have the goodness to walk out directly. This 
is rather an abuse of my favor.' He looked deadly pale, but was 
dressed as usual, and sober, and said, 'I know I am guilty of an un- 
warrantable intrusion, but finding that you were not in your study 
I have ventured to come here.' I was losing my temper, but some- 
thing in the man's manner disinclined me to jump out of bed to eject 
him by force. So I said simply, 'This is too bad, really; pray leave 
the room at once.' Instead of doing so he put his hand on the foot- 
rail and gently, and as if in pain, sat down on the foot of the bed. 
I glanced at the clock and saw that it was about twenty minutes past 
one. I said, 'The butler has had the judgment since half-past eleven ; 
go and get it!' He said, Tray forgive me; if you knew all the cir- 
cumstances you would. Time presses. Pray give me a precise of your 
judgment, and I will take a note in my book of it,' drawing his re- 
porter's book out of his breast pocket. I said, 'I will do nothing of the 
kind. Go downstairs, find the butler, and don't disturb me you 
will wake my wife; otherwise I shall have to put you out.' He slight- 
ly moved his hand. I said, Who let you in ?' He answered, 'No one.' 
'Confound it,' I said, 'What the devil do you mean? Are you drunk?' 
He replied quickly, 'No, and never shall be again; but I pray your 
lordship give me your decision, for my time is short.' I said, 'You 
don't seem to care about my time, and this is the last time I will ever 
allow a reporter in my house/ He stopped me short, saying, 'This is 
the last time I shall ever see you anywhere.' 

Well, fearful that this commotion might arouse and frighten my 
wife, I shortly gave him the gist of my judgment. . . He seemed to 
be taking it down in shorthand; it might have taken two or three 
minutes. When I finished, he rose, thanked me for excusing his in- 



260 JOHN E. COOVER 

trusion and for the .consideration I had always shown him and his 
colleagues, opened the door, and went away. I looked at the clock ; it 
was on the stroke of half-past one'' 

(Lady Hornby awoke, thinking she had heard talking; and her 
husband told her what had happened, and repeated the account when 
dressing the next morning.) 

"I went to court a little before ten. The usher came into my room 
to robe me, when he said, 'A sad thing happened last night, sir. Poor 

was found dead in his room.' I said 'Bless my soul! dear me! 

What did he die of, and when ?' 'Well, sir, it appeared he went up 
to his room as usual at ten to work at his papers. His wife went up 
about twelve to ask him when he would be ready for bed. He said, 
"I have only the Judge's judgment to get ready, and then I have 
finished." As he did not come, she went up again, about a quarter to 
one, to his room and peeped in, and thought she saw him writing, but 
she did not disturb him. At half -past one she again went to him and 
spoke to him at the door. As he didn't answer she thought he had 
fallen asleep, so she went up to rouse him. To her horror he was 
dead. On the floor was his note-book, which I have brought away. 
She sent for the doctor, who arrived a little after two, and said he had 
been dead, he concluded, about an hour.' I looked at the note-book. 
There was the usual heading: 'In the Supreme Court, before the 
Chief Judge: The Chief Judge gave judgment this morning in this 
case to the following effect' and then followed a few lines of in- 
decipherable shorthand. 

"I sent for the magistrate who would act as coroner, and desired 

him to examine Mr. 's wife and servants as to whether Mr. 

had left his home or could possibly have left it without their knowl- 
edge, between eleven and one on the previous night. The result of 
the inquest showed he died of some form of heart disease, and had not 
and could not have, left the house without the knowledge of at least 
his wife, if not of the servants. Not wishing to air my 'spiritual ex- 
perience' for the benefit of the press or the public, I kept the matter 
at the time to myself, only mentioning it to my Puisne Judge and to 
one or two friends ; but when I got home to tiffin I asked my wife to 
tell me as nearly as she could remember what I had said to her during 
the night, and I made a brief note of her replies and of the facts." 

[Lady Hornby has kindly confirmed the above facts to us, as far 
as she was cognizant of them.] 

"As I said then, so I say now I was not asleep, but wide awake. 
After a lapse of nine years my memory is quite clear on the subject. I 
have not the least doubt I saw the man have not the least doubt 
that the conversation took place between us. 

"I may add that I had examined the butler in the morning who 
had given me back the MS. in the envelope when I weni to the 
court after breakfast as to whether he had locked the door as usual, 
and if anyone could have got in. He said that he had done every- 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 261 

thing as usual, adding that no one could have got in even if he had 
not locked the door, as there was no handle outside which there was 
not. . . The coolies said they opened the door as usual that morning 
turned the key and undid the chains." (pp. 89-91 ) 16 

A communication to the Nineteenth Century, November, 1884, by 
Frederick H. Balfour, points out some discrepancies between the 
above narrative and the facts : 

1. The M is the Rev. Hugh Lang Nivens, editor of the Shang- 
hai Courier. He died not at one in the morning but between eight 
or nine a.m. after a good night's rest. 

2. There was no Mrs. Hornby at that time. Sir Edmund's 
second wife had died two years previously, and he did not marry 
again till three months after the event. 

3. No Inquest was ever held. 

4. The story turns upon the judgment of a certain case to be de- 
livered the next day, January 20, 1875. There is no record of any 
such judgment. 

Before printing the letter from Balfour, the Editors sent it to 
Judge Hornby for his comment: 

My vision "must have followed the death (some three months) 
instead of synchronizing with it. At the same time this hypothesis 
is quite contrary to the collection of the facts both in my own mind 
and in Lady Hornby's mind. . . If I had not believed, as I still believe, 
that every word of it [the story] was accurate, and that my memory 
was to be relied on, I should not have even told it as a personal ex- 
perience." 

All these discrepancies are concordant with the results of psycho- 
logical research on testimony, and are to be attributed to psycho- 
logical law rather than to either dishonesty or culpable carelessness. 

The readiness of metapsychists to rely upon observations of seance 
phenomena, their insistence that illusion can be avoided, and their 
quick condemnation of the competence of an observer who is tricked, 
clearly indicate that they do not understand that error is inevitable. 
Consequently the psychologist remains incredulous in the face of all 
the accumulating "evidence." 

Perception is not the photographic process the layman and element- 
ary text-books take it to be. We do not perceive with our senses, 
We perceive with our minds. What we perceive is represented in 
part by (a) immediate sensations (through our special senses) and in 
part by (b) mental stuff (imagery) contributed by our past ex- 



"Gurney and Meyers: Visible Apparitions. Nineteenth Century. July, 
1884, 16. 



262 JOHN E. COOVBR 

perience. A perception, we might say, is a process compounded of 
sensation and imagination; it is the result of sensory impressions be- 
ing assimilated by memorial material. The ratio between sensation 
and imagination varies greatly in what we call perception, depending 
upon the definiteness, of the sensory component and upon the definite- 
ness, or readiness, of the memorial elements which is often re- 
ferred to as "expectancy". When the sensorial component is definite 
but overridden, illusions occur; when it is negligible, hallucinations 
occur. Thus, perception is not different in its constitution from illu- 
sions or hallucinations. The observer himself is unable to distinguish 
the difference ; nor can the trained observer in the psychological labora- 
tory by introspection separate the memorial component from the sen- 
sory component in a perception, so thoroughly fused are they in the 
unitary psychical process. 

The method of the seance is precisely adapted to produce illusions 
and hallucinations, and it strains credulity to imagine that any trust- 
worthy observations come from it. All of the evidence is suspect, 
and no "sheaf of testimony" is more cogent than its weakest compo- 
nent. The "fagot theory" is fallacious. It is not universally true 
that "Where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire," for 
the "smoke" may be but dust stirred up by artful deceivers for art- 
less perceivers. It is useless to fagot seance evidence. 

It thus becomes clear why evidence for phenomena observed under 
seance conditions cannot be accepted by the experimental psychologist, 
and why his refusal does not reflect upon the honesty or the general 
scientific competence of the seance observer. 

The disability of the evidence for metapsychic phenomena can be 
removed only by the adoption of the laboratory method. That the 
phenomena are extremely variable and difficult to control is no more 
a reason for avoiding the scientific method in metapsychics than in 
physiology or psychology where similar difficulties are met. 

Memory is not the recovery of a block of experience that has lain 
in a pigeonhole. Physical analogy is hopelessly inadequate to illustrate 
the way the mind works. Memory is a process, and a process that 
never repeats itself exactly. A block of experience has no more exist- 
ence before it is recalled, than the North wind has in a calm, and can- 
not be pigeon-holed. Its recollection is another mental process, a new 
one in itself, reproducing elements identical or similar to the elements 
in the original experience. In the representative repetition, however, 
the mutation of the elements in the original experience is character- 



METAPSYCHICS AND INCREDULITY OF PSYCHOLOGISTS 263 

istic, and is often very great. It is not so much of surprise, therefore, 
that flagrant errors in testimony occur, as it is that conditions can be 
devised by which testimony may be accurate. The method of ex- 
periment in the laboratory provides these conditions by requiring the 
record on the spot. 

Perhaps another circumstance bearing upon the incredulity of the 
psychologist should be given consideration. In the psychological 
laboratory the study of mental processes, dependent upon an adult 
person, is a cooperative enterprise. The experimenter and the ob- 
server, when the information sought must be obtained by introspec- 
tion, have each their definite respective parts to play. The experi- 
menter and the subject, when the information sought is accessible to 
the experimenter, must likewise assume their respective roles. In 
either case, thorough understanding, and complete cooperation, are 
essential. 

Now, any record of seance phenomena reads like a contest between 
the medium and the sitters. There is the matching of wits, with the 
great advantage in favor of the medium, who retains control of the 
phenomena. When scientific instruments are brought into the seance 
room, they must first be "magnetized," and later they are almost 
invariably misused, so that all crucial tests fail, and the investigators 
are forced to return to the usual seance phenomena. 

If the relation becomes experimenter and subject, and the experi- 
menter retains control of the conditions of the experiment, the nature 
of the phenomena need not depend upon the immediate control of 
the medium's body. The use of scientific instruments will reveal the 
exact relation of her body or her movements to the phenomena. And 
should phenomena new to science appear, the conditions favoring them 
could be determined, and headway could be made in the further study 
of their nature and the laws governing them. 

The use of the scientific method, and instruments of precision, does 
not constitute a threat to the medium, as is sometimes intimated, and 
neither she nor her manager should demur at their use. To do so 
implies a fear lest the phenomena will be found to be normally pro- 
duced. Sincerity on the part of those in charge of the phenomena 
should inspire not only a willingness to cooperate in the only method 
of research fitted to advance knowledge, but an earnest request to be 
allowed to do so. This attitude would immediately disarm many 
a priori critics, and recommend the medium to the psychologist as a 
suitable subject for his laboratory. 



264 JOHN E. COOVER 

Research could then begin on two simple but fundamental types 
of metapsychic phenomena: (a) Telekinesis and (b) Cryptesthesia. 
The experimental problems might be, (a) What are the raps, and 
(b) Is there supernormal knowledge? 

The incredulity of the psychologist does not spring from an a priori 
judgment that metapsychic phenomena are not possible; it comes from 
his knowledge of psychological causes of error, and the resulting con- 
viction that reliance upon the scientific method alone is the price of 
admissible evidence. 

Department of Psychology, 
Stanford University, 
California. 



CHAPTER XII 
TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 



BY GARDNER MURPHY 



The kind of experience commonly called "telepathy" forms a very 
ancient problem. Herodotus tells of a case in which King Croesus 
consulted the Delphic Oracle by messenger. The messenger is said to 
have obtained from the Oracle an exact description of a complicated 
act which the King had performed when alone. Classical and medi< 
eval literature abound in alleged cases of the influence of one mind 
upon another over long distances. In the eighteenth century Sweden- 
borg attracted wide attention by his claims to knowledge of events 
occurring at great distances, most famous is the case of his apparent 
knowledge of the great Stockholm fire several hours before the fastest 
messenger could bring news of it. Late in the same century Mesmer 
and his followers claimed that their patients were capable of re- 
ceiving impressions from their minds without any sensory communi- 
cation. Three different committees, one in the late eighteenth cen- 
tury and two early in the nineteenth, investigated the claims of the 
Mesmerists; although one of the commissions reported favorably 
upon the claims for telepathy and many similar marvels, the scientific 
world remained unmoved. 

The earliest serious experimental work is that of Sir William 
Barrett in England in 1876, followed shortly by the investigations of 
the English Society for Psychical Research during the 1880's, and 
similar experiments at short and long distances on the continent and 
in this country. Parallel to these experimental studies were two 
large-scale investigations of so-called "spontaneous" cases. An il- 
lustration will show my meaning. 

"I woke up with a start, feeling I had had a hard blow on my 
mouth, and with a distinct sense that I had been cut, and was bleed- 
ing under my upper lip, and seized my pocket-handkerchief, and held 
it (in a little pushed lump) to the part, as I sat up in bed, and after 
a few seconds, when I removed it, I was astonished not to see any 
blood, and only then realised it was impossible anything could havu 
struck me there, as I lay fast asleep in bed, and so I thought it was 
only a dream: but I looked at my watch and saw it was seven, and 



266 GARDNER MURPHY 

finding Arthur (my husband) was not in the room, I concluded 
(rightly) that he must have gone out on the lake for an early sail, 
as it was so fine. 

"I then fell asleep. At breakfast (half -past nine), Arthur came 
in rather late, and I noticed he rather purposely sat farther away 
from ne than usual, and every now and then put his pocket-hand- 
kerchief furtively up to his lip, in the very way I had done. I said,. 
'Arthur, why are you doing that?' and added a little anxiously, 'I 
know you have hurt yourself 1 but I'll tell you why afterwards.' 
He said, 'Well, when I was sailing, a sudden squall came, throwing 
the tiller suddenly round, and it struck me a bad blow in the mouth, 
under the upper lip, and it has been bleeding a good deal and won't 
stop.' I then said, 'Have you any idea what o'clock it was when it 
happened ?' and he answered, 'It must have been about seven.' 

"I then told what had happened to me, much to his surprise, and 
all who were with us at breakfast. It happened here about three 
years ago at Brantwood, to me." 1 

Such cases, supported at least by evidence beyond the testimony 
of the individual, have been published by the thousands. Several 
statistical studies of such cases were early undertaken to compare the 
frequency of such occurrences against the number to be expected by 
mere coincidence. Although such studies seemed to show that ex- 
planations in terms of "coincidence" are very hazardous, the data 
did not attract wide attention and have in general been ignored by 
science. 

Most noteworthy among the early experimental studies are those 
of Mrs. Sidgwick performed under relatively strict conditions, one 
person attempting to "send" impressions to a "receiver" on another 
floor of the same building. 2 In 1905 and 1909 two series of tele- 
pathic experiments were reported in the "Proceedings" of the English 
Society by Miss Miles and Miss Ramsden. 3 Working at long dis- 
tances sometimes in fact over a distance of several hundred miles 
they took turns in the effort to transmit to one another impressions 
upon which they concentrated at a given hour. At seven o'clock 
each evening one would endeavor to send, the other to receive, an 
impression, the reports being mailed immediately to the Society 
headquarters in London. The coincidences are very extraordinary 
and although not susceptible of direct statistical measurement, seem 



(1) Phantasms of the Living. Gurncy, Podmore and Myers, vol. 1 
p. 188. 

(2) Proceedings. Society for Psychical Research, vol. 8. 

(3) Ibid., vols. 21 and 27. 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 267 

to be many times in excess of the number attributable to chance. Such 
estimates, however, are of no great consequence, and we cannot tell 
to what extent concurrent habits of thought or a common source may 
be responsible for the similarities in the thoughts of the two. In the 
second series their results are even more extraordinary than in the 
first but with this peculiar variation : in many cases the receiver ob- 
tained, not the impression upon which the sender was concentrating, 
but details of her experience during the minutes or hours immediately 
preceding the experiment. Among these are such specific ideas, for 
example, as that of a little girl with her hair down her back, cutting 
out scraps of paper. It mav be noted in passing that this tendency 
to obtain items which are in the margin of consciousness, or which 
have recently been in consciousness, instead of the one upon which 
the sender has actually been concentrating, has been reported by a 
host of investigators; at the same time, such allowances, of course, 
make statistical computation even more difficult. 

The most extraordinary experiment ever reported by serious inves- 
tigators using the method just described is the following: 4 The hour 
chosen was 8 :30 P. M. It so happened that during the day preceding 
the experiment in question the receiver B told his friend C that an ex- 
periment was to take place and that she might take part if she wished. 
The sender, A, who was at a distance of several hundred miles, did 
not, of course, know of C's participation. That evening A ate his din- 
ner in a little Bohemian restaurant, and at the same table began, after 
his meal, a game of chess. Please notice the circumstances of the game. 
There were in the room three men at an adjoining table who were 
talking loudly; they were eating roast capon with bread sauce. The 
room had green hangings. In the next room some one was strumming 
on the piano. At 8 :25 A suddenly recalled that the experiment was 
due and hastily withdrew to a quiet place. Here at 8:30 he con- 
centrated on a meaningless diagram. The impression received by C 
in automatic writing included the following items: "Roast capon, 
bread sauce, three men, much talk, green hangings, somebody strum- 
ming." And with it was a criss-cross pattern more or less resembling 
the chess-board. In the case of this experiment compared with items 
obtained in a variety of others, it is evident that the results are scarce- 
ly likely to be mere coincidences. This is a case in which the genuine- 
ness of the telepathic phenomenon depends chiefly on the good faith 



(4) Burt and Usher, Annals of Psychical Science, 1909. 



268 



GARDNER MURPHY 



of the experimenters and authors, a point upon which no one at our 
distance has the right to any positive opinion either pro or con. 

It is evident from the Miles-Ramsden experiment, as well as from 
the one just named, that we needed a type of material capable of ac- 
curate statistical measurement, and a method which could be repeated 
at will under controlled conditions, capable of observation by any 
person properly equipped and willing to give the time. Several such 
attempts have consequently been made. Of these, by far the most 
extensive is that of Dr. Coover of Stanford University, whose re- 
sults, contained in this series of papers, may speak for themselves. 
My chief duty is to acquaint you with investigations which are much 
less widely known in American university circles. Probably the 
most significant of these is the experiment conducted by three mem- 
bers of the Department of Psychology at the University of Gro- 
ningen in The Netherlands. It was reported in 1921 to the First 
International Congress of Psychical Research by Dr. Brugmans. 5 



psychiques. 



sap 



np 



(5) 



6 


6 


6 


6 


6 


6 


6 


6 


5 


5 


5 


5 


5 


5 


5 


5 


4 


4 


4 


4 


4 


4 


4 


4 


3 


3 


3 


3 


3 


3 


3 


3 


2 


2 


2 


2 


2 


2 


2 


2 


A 


B 


C 


D 


E 


F 


G 


H 



FIGURE 1 

Board used in telepathic experiment at University 
of Groningen, Netherlands. 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 269 

Two rooms in the university psychological laboratory were used, one 
directly above the other. A hole was cut in the floor of the upper 
room and two sheets of plate glass placed therein securely, with an 
air cushion between. This made it possible to look from the upper 
into the lower room. Nevertheless the experimenters report that no 
voice could be heard in the lower room even when one was shouting 
in the upper room. The three psychologists took turns in acting as 
"sender". The materials to be transmitted consisted of letters and 
numbers arranged on a board as indicated in Fig. 1. 
In each experiment they drew from one bag a slip of paper determin- 
ing which letter from A to H inclusive was to be used, and from 
another bag another slip determining which number from 1 to 6 was 
to be used. The two slips of paper together therefore designated one 
specific square on the board containing 48 squares. In the room 
below was a wooden frame-work covered with (Fig. 2) black cloth 
on its upper and three lateral surfaces. The chair of the "receiver" 
was placed so that his back was to the one open side. His right arm 
extended through an opening so that the hand and a part of the fore- 
arm were visible to the experimenters in the room above; the re- 
ceiver himself could, of course, see nothing above him. In front of 
the receiver's hand was the board just described. The purpose of the 
experimenters was to force the subject by their own volition to move 
his finger to the square which had been chosen by lot and upon which 
they were concentrating their attention. The receiver's signal that 
his choice had been made was a double tap with the forefinger upon 
the board; thus, no premature termination of a given experiment 
could result from excitement of the experimenters upon an apparent, 
though spurious, success. Six experiments at a time were carried out. 
The experimenters then came into the room in which the receiver 
sat, and performed six experiments at close range, changing the posi- 
tion of the board upon entering as well as upon leaving the room. 
The latter precaution aimed at the elimination of mere "position 
habits' 1 and also undertook to keep in the foreground the factor of 
voluntary control of the hand by the experimenters, rather than the 
mere attempt to induce imagery in the receiver's mind. Of 187 
experiments conducted as just described, one in 48 or approximately 
4 T /2 in all should have been perfect successes according to the theory 
of probability. Actually, the number of successes was 60. Curiously 
enough^ 40% of the experiments between two rooms were complete 
successes while only 30% of those in the same room were successful. 



270 GARDNER MURPHY 

The experiments hazard the conjecture that in the latter case the at- 
tempt to be on their guard against unconscious whispering and the like 
interfered with their concentration. Not only did they measure the 
number of successes but the amount of deviation upon the board from 
the correct square in the case of all errors, and found that the distribu- 
tion of errors follows a normal probability curve, that is, that the 
number of errors of a specific type decreases in accordance with the dis- 
tance from the correct square. Two familiar ideas from the psychology 
laboratory were introduced: one, the effect of drugs, the other, the 
effect of relaxation. Alcohol was used in a few experiments and 
seemed to have a markedly beneficial effect on the results; in fact of 
the 29 experiments in which the receiver took 30 grams of alcohol ten 
minutes before the experiment began, 22 were successful. Upon 
this the investigators comment : "Alcohol overcomes the individual's 
normal inhibitions. The decrease in self-consciousness and the ten- 
dency to more superficial ideas are symptoms of this lack of inhibi- 
tions." The subject's introspective report of "passivity or relaxation" 
coincided also remarkably with his most successful reports; the psy- 
cho-galvanic method gave results which seemed confirmatory to this 
view. 

Probably the most serious questions relating to technique in this 
experiment have to do with the possibility of auditory hyperaesthesia 
(a possibility not completely covered even by the precautions named), 
and the remote possibility of reflections of light 6 from the upper into 
the lower room. In spite of these difficulties this is, in my 'judgment, 
the best piece of work which the history of the subject has to offer. 

In 1921 R. Warcollier published in Paris a comprehensive text on 
our subject entitled, "La Telepathic". This contains much valuable 
material on the mental states most favorable for the transmission and 
reception of telepathic impressions, an analysis carried forward much 
more rigorously than is done anywhere in the literature in English. 
The significance of drowsy and semi-sleeping conditions is supported 
by a wide range of facts, and a critical discussion of the relation of 

u; S3AiS JoqjnB aqj, *P 3 PP B s ! uopisodsipwd aiqiwfopi aqi o; s3tup 
addition, an account of experiments of his own with a group of in- 
dividuals in Paris and other cities of France. In these experiments 
visual material predominates. Some of these contain the necessary 



^Though the upper room was darkened, and the subject blindfolded. 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 271 

statistical control, but some of the more striking cases are not thus 
measurable. 

Warcollier's work continues and has gained steadily both in critical 
spirit and in the accumulation of cooperating individuals in many 
regions. In a recent pamphlet, an extraordinarily interesting case is 
reported in which we are given the impressions of two senders in Paris 
and one receiver in this country. The first two thought of a two- 
handled loving cup, and a stag's antlers, respectively. The receiver 
got the impression of a loving cup, the handles of which were in the 
form of antlers. The receiver, who is well known to me, is an in- 
dividual who has made much of the habit of putting herself volun- 
tarily into those states of relaxation and mental passivity to which 
Warcollier refers. 

I may now briefly mention my own work, not because it contains 
anything particularly novel, but because it is a part of a sequence in 
which, as you will see, my successor has benefitted by my mistakes, 
and has given American research in the field a much more satisfactory 
character. From 1922 to 1925 I held the Hodgson Fellowship in 
Psychical Research at Harvard. I devoted about fifty per cent of my 
time during those years to the search for individuals who claimed to 
have telepathic gifts, my theory being that such gifts, if genuine, 
are rare, and that it is among those reporting extraordinary psychic 
experiences that experimental results are most likely to be obtained. 
A young woman in one of my graduate courses reported to me, for 
example, the following case: She and a friend had made an ap- 
pointment for 5 :30 one evening. She was late in starting down town 
to meet her friend. In fact it was after five when she started into 
the subway at 116th Street. As she went down the steps the idea 
flashed into her mind that it was futile to go further, that her friend 
was already on her way uptown, and that the only thing to do was 
to go quickly to the corner of Riverside Drive and 122nd Street. She 
tried to banish this absurd notion from her mind, feeling certain that 
her friend was waiting down town for her; and again she proceeded 
down the steps. A second time the idea flashed into her mind that 
she must hurry over to Riverside Drive. Giving up all attempt at 
rationality, she turned around and hurried to Riverside Drive and 
122nd Street, where she met her friend descending from a Fifth 
Avenue bus. It seemed to me that this was the kind of case that I 
wanted to experiment with ; and we have therefore carried on a series 
of experiments both at short and long range in which impressions of 



272 GARDNER MURPHY 

all sorts, but especially geometrical figures of various shapes, have 
been used. 

Another case is that of a young man, a senior in college, who took 
with me a general course in abnormal psychology. He asked me 
after class the explanation of this experience : There had come sud- 
denly into his mind early one morning a tune which he had not re- 
cently heard, and of which, as far as he knew, he had not recently 
been thinking. It seemed to him that a friend of his was playing 
this tune ; he did not understand the reason for her choice, as he had 
heard her play many other tunes more recently, and many were of 
more emotional significance to her and to him. The hour of the im- 
pression had been so early that the idea of her playing the piano at 
that time seemed to him extremely improbable. It had turned out, 
however, that she had arisen early on that day, had run through 
some old music and had picked out the piece in question to play at 
approximately the time he got the impression. Exact verification of 
the time was, of course, not possible. I told him that I had no ex- 
planation to offer, but that I should be interested to hear more about 
it, and to know if he had had similar experiences. He came into 
my office with me and told me the following incident. About two 
years before he had been much interested in hypnotism, and in the 
possibility of telepathy. One evening he made up his mind to try 
the experiment of transmitting a mental command to a friend living 
at another address in the same city. He concentrated upon the idea 
that this friend must meet him at 9 o'clock the following morning at 
a certain cross-roads outside of the city. It rained heavily the next 
day, which happened to be a Sunday. There he waited at the cross- 
roads; at 9 o'clock appeared his friend to meet him. She asked him 
why he had made her come to that forlorn locality, particularly in 
view of the fact that it was raining and that she would much have 
liked to be on her way to church. He asked her what she meant by 
her strange question, and she replied that she had had a dream the 
night before in which he appeared, demanding that she should meet 
him there at that hour. I asked him, of course, whether' they had 
ever met at that place or at that hour, and he replied that both the 
place and hour had been deliberately chosen among those least likely 
to be thought of; that is, they had never been at the place together, 
and they had never met at such an hour. As in the former instance, 
the case is offered not as proving anything whatever, but simply as 
an instance of the type of case which one encounters in such research 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 273 

and as a case which should be studied under experimental conditions, 
where, if possible, we might ascertain the statistical as well as the 
qualitative analysis of such happenings. This young man imme- 
diately agreed to cooperate, and carried through a series of experi- 
ments both with me and with the previous subject mentioned. In 
the latter series some of his results at a distance of two miles from 
the "sender" were quite extraordinary, but the series was too short 
to permit conclusions of any kind, and he shortly afterwards graduated 
and went into business outside of the city. I was much surprised and 
pleased to get a note from him just the other day. He has returned 
and we are again experimenting. 

A third subject, a middle aged woman of refinement and educa- 
tion, gave us also a good many hours for experiments with geomet- 
rical figures, obtaining, under a variety of conditions, results which 
I have not been able to explain. The great bulk of my telepathic work 
has yielded results closely comparable to those of Dr. Coover; that is 
to say, the vast majority of subjects give results which offer no dif- 
ficulties of explanation in terms of coincidences. Some rather marked 
exceptions remain unexplained. 

A case which shows all the complexities and difficulties of investi- 
gation is the experiment conducted by radio on March 2nd, 1924, 
from the Zenith Station in Chicago. Professors Gault and English 
cooperated with me in a simple plan to test out the ability of "listeners 
in" to receive impressions upon which we three and a group of other 
persons at the studio were concentrating. In each experiment the 
audience were told the general nature of the stimulus, for example, 
that it was a number or an animal, and that they were to try to get 
the particular thing, the number or the particular animal. Over 
2,500 persons mailed reports. With the exception of two individuals 
there is not a case in which we really have any problem. In fact, 
leaving aside these two persons we find that the results are a little 
worse than chance would lead us to expect. All the stimuli were 
chosen by a machine constructed on the principle of a triple roulette 
wheel which is capable of picking out one of any thousand objects 
numbered in accordance with the numbers on the machine. 7 The 
first seven experiments were as follows: 



'Statistical computations arc, of course, quite involved, particularly in 
view of the fact that some animals are better known than others, some 
.-numbers more frequently thought of, etc. We have tabulated the "preference 11 
'throughout the series. Probably the slight difference between the resulti 



274 GARDNER MURPHY 

1. A number between 1 and 1,000 inclusive. 

2. A wild animal with a letter written over his head. 

3. A colored line drawn to intersect a given black line, color and 
an^le to be guessed. 

4. A taste. 

5. A pain at some point on the hands or arms. 

6 and 7. Emotional experiences, 6 being a drowning man, and 
7 a fireman rescuing a girl. 

The variation in the kind of stimulus showed no clear results in 
spite of the tradition in favor of emotionally stimulating objects; it 
is enough to note that under the conditions stated none of the types 
of material used had any measurable telepathic effect. There re- 
mained, however, the two cases just referred to. One got a bizarre 
impression agreeing rather strikingly with the experience of one of 
the senders; the latter, instead of following directions, had tied a 
string around the little finger of his left hand in experiment 5, and 
had endeavored to convey the idea of dull throbbing in that member. 
One report mentioned a dull throbbing in the left little finger. A 
single case can of course lead to no conclusion. The other case was 
of quite a different character. One individual mailed in results which 
showed three complete and two partial successes in the experiments 
described; she got, for example, the exact location of the pain which 
was on the left palm about one-half inch below the base of the little 
finger, and the impression of the drowning man. An empirical check 
upon the likelihood of her getting her whole range of recorded suc- 
cesses showed that this chance was certainly far below one in one 
hundred million. 8 

As we had explained over the radio that our chief purpose was 
not to prove anything but to enlist persons for further research un- 
der better controlled conditions, we undertook correspondence with 
the young woman who mailed this report. She was quite willing 
to take part in further work under any scientific control necessary. 
Her family became interested and three of them sent me at different 
times cordial letters arranging for every convenience for study of 



obtained and the chance figure is due to our machine having hit upon non- 
preferred objects to a slightly greater extent than preferred objects. 

Computation without reference to the factor of preference mentioned 
in the preceding note agrees fairly closely with the empirical check men- 
tioned. The actual chance is probably not more than one in a billion; but 
conservative estimate is based upon the necessity for strictness in defining 
a "success". 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 275 

the problem in their own home. One of the most serious disap- 
pointments in my three years' work in the field was that I was ill 
at the very time that the experiments were to have been conducted, 
and have never been able at any other time to arrange the long trip 
necessary to the young woman's present home. But this case must 
be seen through, and studied carefully before I shall ever be sat- 
isfied. 

I might summarize my approach, in such work as I was able to 
do, by saying that for my own work I believed and still believe in 
the necessity of taking particular individuals and duplicating as far 
as possible the conditions under which they claim to have had such 
experiences. The procedure should, I think, be gradually tightened 
up so that one source of error after another is controlled. An at- 
tempt to control all sources of error at the beginning is not only 
futile because of the impossibility of foreseeing all sources of error, 
but prejudicial to obtaining the kinds of occurrences that one is out 
to observe. Tenseness, distrust, and apathy are but three of many 
ways of becoming negatively conditioned to a long series of laboratory 
experiments. I have found that I must search hard to find a sub- 
ject who could get anything like consistent results under anything 
like strict conditions, and in general that every resource must be 
used to keep the experiment interesting, and the subject's co-operation 
active, as one gradually molds the situation into that which one de- 
sires for scientific purposes. 

My successor at Harvard, Dr. G. H. Estabrooks, has improved 
on my methods in several striking respects. First, he has chosen his 
subjects in a radically different manner. Instead of selecting only a 
few, he has rejected only those who could not or would not co- 
operate, has taken graduate and undergraduate students by the 
dozens, and many other individuals. He has found methods of 
winning the confidence of his subject and of interesting him in his 
task. The simple expedient of promising an exhibition of card tricks 
proved to be successful bait with a large number of undergraduate 
students who were taken just as they came. In view of the fact 
that his work is soon to be published, I can refer to his work only 
in a very general way. He made use of two rooms in the Harvard 
laboratory which are separated by a heavy double door. An auto- 
matic timing apparatus gives a signal upon which he cuts a pack of 
cards and concentrates intensely upon the card chosen. The same 
instrument causes the signal to be given in the other room in which 



276 GARDNER MURPHY 

sits the receiver. The latter writes down instantly and without 
allowing himself to "think," the name or number, and the suit of 
a card. The results, which will soon be available for you in tabular 
form, show not only that great statistical difficulties would occur in 
applying the usual explanation in terms of chance but that the re- 
sults are extraordinarily consistent. The best results are in the first 
five experiments with a given subject, the next best are in the next 
five, and at about the fifteenth experiment the results drop to what 
we should expect from chance. Statistical measure of chance is ap- 
plied to color, suit and number. Consistently, the result from colors, 
that is the choice of red or black, is enormously better than the result 
from the suit or from the designation of the individual cards. It is 
to be noted that although the rooms are soundproof in the popular 
sense, Dr. Estabrooks himself points out that they are not so in any 
strict sense and that the possibility of auditory hyperaesthesia has not 
been completely excluded. In addition to his success in avoiding the 
vast expenditure of time in selecting subjects, which has occupied 
most previous researches, his method of intense concentration is ob 
viously responsible for a great deal whether the results are genuinely 
telepathic or not. Quantitative statements of this factor of concen- 
tration are very difficult, but his entire two years' work taken to- 
gether has given me, whenever I have had a chance to watch and 
discuss his procedure, a consistent impression that he takes hold, so 
to speak, of the subject matter upon which he is concentrating in a 
way of which I am quite incapable. He, himself, makes no claims 
as to the explanation of his results, and it would be even more pre- 
mature for me to do so. 

This then is a summary of a few of the experimental attacks on 
our problem. How does the situation stand today and what are our 
greatest needs? Perhaps the first necessity is the limitation of our 
hypotheses to those factors in the situation which can profitably be 
approached statistically or experimentally. A great deal of discus- 
sion has been put forward arguing the a priori likelihood of telepathy 
in view of a supposed analogy with wireless communication. This 
doctrine goes back in fact to a famous address by Sir William 
Crookes in which the term "brain waves" was used to name electro- 
magnetic vibrations emitted in the process of thought. Suffice it to 
say that we know nothing about such waves even in the simplest 
cases, and even less as to the possibility of their being received and 
interpreted by another brain. Telepathy is with equal cheerfulness 




FIGURE 2 

Apparatus used for telepathic experiment at University of 
Groningen, Netherlands 



TELEPATHY AS AN EXPERIMENTAL PROBLEM 277 

rejected as a priori impossible on the grounds that it would appear 
to conflict with certain assumptions as to the nature of mind and 
body. If we face frankly the fact that we know nothing final about 
the relation or relations obtaining between mind and body, it will 
seem wiser to proceed on a purely inductive basis. The burden of 
proof, to be sure, has always been upon those who assert that tele- 
pathy exists, but the burden is a finite and not an infinite one. Long 
ago Laplace laid down the simple principle that the amount of evi- 
dence needed to convince us of a given event is proportional to the 
a priori unlikelihood of its occurrence, adding that since no event is 
infinitely unlikely, no phenomenon requires an infinite quantity of 
proof. How much proof and of what quality, is for you to ascer- 
tain by reading, by experiment, and by reflection. 

Another urgent need is for a clearer distinction between laboratory 
investigations of the type described, and the familiar practices of the 
stage or the drawing-room, which go under the name of demonstra- 
tions of telepathy. The number of secret codes used by professional 
and semi-professional telepathists is legion, and as they are discov- 
ered new ones are constantly invented. As I change the position of 
my hands and feet, for example, I can signal to an accomplice in the 
back of the room any number desired ; varying inflections of the voice 
are equally suitable and in equally general use. Telescopes in the 
roof, and hidden wiring under loose boards in the floor, are ancient 
and familiar, but they never fail to produce the expected results in 
a hall full of persons eager for a thrill. A mastery of the methods 
of producing fraudulent telepathic phenomena would take a man's 
entire time, assuming indeed that such mastery could ever be ob- 
tained. The one thing necessary is the clear recognition that per- 
formances in which arrangements are made beforehand by the profes- 
sional and in which the scientist must observe as best he can, are 
worth nothing whatever. He must, as always, follow a method in 
which he can control the variables which are for him important, 
and can gradually increase his mastery of these until he can produce 
at will the phenomena whose nature he seeks to understand. 

It is clear that nothing is gained by endeavoring to convince any- 
one that telepathic phenomena are genuine. The only method of 
convincing which is worth anything is the prosecution of more and 
more careful experiments with a greater and greater variety of 
methods, determining under what conditions results like those of 
Brugmans, Warcollier, and Estabrooks occur. The task before the 



278 GARDNER MURPHY 

investigator today is not a polemic one. It is simply the task of 
steadily improving the quality and quantity of experimental work, 
the task of controlling more and more of the elusive variables in- 
volved, and of working towards a thorough understanding of the 
physiological and psychological factors which underlie the phenomena. 
If the experimenter is working with something which is really new 
to science, his task is to find out where it comes from, what condi- 
tions in the individual's make-up or in the setting of the experiment 
are important for its appearance or non-appearance. When he has 
succeeded in such a mastery of the whole situation that he can pre- 
dict the occurrence of the phenomena, and can at will institute the 
conditions necessary for their observation, he may call for and ob- 
tain the glad cooperation of the world of science. When he feels 
that the scientific world is, in general, hostile, he can but keep true 
to his program and wait patiently, until such time as he has within 
his hands a technique so perfect, and a phenomenon so definite, that 
it can become the property of any scientist who is interested in study- 
ing and in duplicating his procedure. 

Department of Psychology 
Columbia University 
New York City 



PART IV 

Antagonistic to the Claims that Such 
Phenomena Occur 



CHAPTER XIII 
THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 



BY JOSEPH JASTROW 



I 

It is unfortunate that the issues involved in "Psychical Research" 
require fundamental considerations of logic; for logic, whether 
through scholastic or other disciplinary associations, is commonly 
rated as a forbidding study. This is at once a misfortune and an 
anachronism. Logic directs the procedure of all the sciences anJ 
when properly tempered is an instrument for the practitioner of 
whatever art. Even Mathematics is but logic of quantitative rela- 
tions. More generally, logic is the universal method of evidence and 
proof, of discovery and conclusion and verification. It deals with 
the basic concepts and processes that "architect" the plans of all 
scientific enterprises. Its unpopularity, if not the result of indolent 
prejudice or misconception, may be ascribed to its seeming barren- 
ness, its apparent abstraction from living interests, its remoteness 
from the phenomena or content of science, of which it is falsely re- 
garded as the dried husk or form. It is condemned as a formal 
science. It is more truly the indispensable compass by which the 
ship of science and of life. steers, whatever the goal or purpose of the 
rational venture. Admittedly a compass never made any discov- 
eries; but without it few of the important navigations would have 
been possible. Science aims at truth, and the search for truth re- 
quires the avoidance of error. Of many "things/ 1 ideas and facts 
alike, it may be said that like much that is offered as news, they 
would be important if true; unless true they cannot be important. 
"What is the truth?" is here as of old the critical question; and logi- 
cal criteria determine the answer. 

The essential problems of Psychical Research and the contro- 
versial aspect which they assume are alike shaped by the logical ap- 
proach; but since this is intimately affected by the psychological at- 
titude, I apply to the joint product the term "animus." The sciences 
in the several stages of their history reflect the animus of the period ; 
but all have come through a long and laborious discipline to a strict- 



282 JOSEPH JASTROW 

ly objective animus free attitude. The geologist or the zoologist 
has but the one purpose, to determine and he uses guesses or hy- 
potheses in doing so how the earth was formed, or how the animal 
life with which it is peopled arose, what is the structure, function, 
mode of action of the inorganic and organic phenomena revealed to 
an impartial yet discerning observation. If he has to meet to sup- 
port or oppose let us say, a "fundamentalist" view, a special animus 
may enter. The science of mind, though beset with peculiar diffi- 
culties, shares with the other sciences the mode of approach to and 
conquest of truth; it proceeds upon the same logic, and shares with 
the rest the vicissitudes of the career of reason. It will appear in the 
sequel that the investigations which some phases of "Psychical Re- 
search" undertake might more appropriately be referred to the physi- 
cist, others to the biologist, and only a portion to the psychologist, 
were it not that the ramifications of the problems thus precipitated 
almost invariably involve psychological considerations to account 
either for their occurrence or for the belief in them. And the mind, 
the instrument of our logical powers, is likewise the complicated 
medium of our emotions, our desires, needs, motives, and their satis- 
faction. Our logical procedures are saturated with the trends and 
products of our psychological nature, and are often strangely shaped 
by them. Such is the story of human behavior, mental behavior, 
belief behavior more particularly, which is so essential to the under- 
standing of "Psychical Research" and its animus. Yet the director 
of our excursion and inquiry is logic, logic under the tutelage of 
psychology. 

A fundamental logical problem arises through the inherent en- 
tanglement of fact and theory, of an observation and its interpreta- 
tion. If these twin operations of the mental endowment had always 
been clearly and correctly distinguished, the history of human think- 
ing would be very different from the actual record. It may seem 
derogatory to the intelligence of an audience or a reader to insist on 
so elementary a point; but here is the parting of the ways. A slight 
deviation in direction, when continued, may lead to widely separated, 
wholly incompatible conclusions, to sober wisdom, or extravagant 
folly, or if vertically extended, determine whether a building shall 
stand or fall. Logic is likewise the plumb-line of science. C'est le 
Premier pas qul coute would be a suitable motto for a constructive 
Society for Psychical Research. 

Of this precept there is an apt illustration illuminating the psy- 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH .283 

etiology of deception. In a familiar trick of the conjuring stage the 
performer collects from among the audience a series of ringer rings, 
hammers them flat, rams them into a pistol, which he fires at a box, 
from which he in turn removes one box after another until in the 
last box are found intact, and tied to decorative favors, the original 
rings which he restores to their astonished owners. The technique 
of the trick is that it is all done before the trick proper is staged : at 
the instant of the magician's right about face to return to the stage, 
the wand on which the rings have been collected changes hands, the 
true rings remaining in the palm of the performer and the sham 
ones flourished on the wand. The rest is mere camouflage to add 
versimilitude to an otherwise improbable tale. A parallel bit of 
sleight of mind is usually subtle than the sleight of hand. But 
the clue lies in the elusiveness of the word fact, as in the natural or 
naive assumption that the brass rings shown are the golden ones col- 
lected. In sincere cases the deception, the substitution of a golden 
inference for a brass fact, is perpetrated unwittingly by the per- 
former upon himself. So before all and above all, let us not be 
blinded by the word fact. 

"Foremost of all, emblazoned at the head of every column, 
loudest shouted by every triumphant disputant, held up as para- 
mount to all other considerations, stretched like an impenetrable 
shield to protect the weakest advocate of the great cause against 
the weapons of the adversary, was that omnipotent monosyllable 
which has been the patrimony of cheats and the currency of 
dupes from time immemorial, Facts, Facts, Facts." 
So wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes fifty years ago; and the admo- 
nition is as pertinent today. Unquestionably back of all the inves- 
tigations and conclusions summarized under the convenient label of 
"Psychical Research" stands a varied assortment of facts; but what 
the facts are is as integral and intricate part of the problem as what 
they mean; fact and interpretation are fused in one reaction. So 
we are led to the interesting inquiry as to how the human mind gets 
its "facts". If there were a fact-getting department of the total 
human equipment most fitly termed the psyche, and which does the 
mental business of our busy world of behavior and ideas, and a 
quite separately organized conclusion-drawing bureau, the attainment 
of a critical, logical judiciary in the mental dominion might be a 
simpler achievement than it actually is. The members of the logi- 
cal staff observation and inference among them do indeed work 



284 JOSEPH JASTROW 

together, but in no complete harmony. The story of the mind is 
not so artless ; the mental adventure is not so simply conducted. Part 
of that story may be recalled. 

The first book, the Genesis, takes us to our anthropological past, 
not exactly a garden of Eden, but a different version logical rather 
than moralistic of the tale of the tree of knowledge and its fruits. 
We may adopt the accredited terminology of our day. James gave 
us the memorable phrase: the will to believe, which is the animus 
of much primitive and not a little advanced thinking. In the quest 
for knowledge homo however sapiens doesn't start from a neutral 
zero; his mind is a belief-seeking rather than a fact-seeking appa- 
ratus; he welcomes facts and finds them and makes them to bolster 
his beliefs. His beliefs, like his prejudices, are determined by the 
satisfaction they afford. This most significant principle, not un- 
known to our historic philosophies, awaited our critical day for a 
convincing, explicit formulation. 

It is the principle that is embodied in the Freudian "wish". In 
Freud's analysis of the sources of belief and behavior, he discovers 
several mechanisms pertinent to the beliefs which Psychical Research 
encounters and attempts to establish. The first of the relevant 
Freudian principles is phantasy: the impressive observation that much 
primitive thinking of the race, of the child, of the less rigidly tutored 
adults in all classes, is imagining day-dreaming when frankly in- 
dulged in richly sprinkled or saturated or encrusted with the pro- 
ducts of the imagination, even when fairly rigorously conducted. 
Its motive is expressed in the pleasure principle : that unless checked 
by the harsh discipline of reality, we tend to believe what is pleasant 
and consoling; in more complex minds, what is aesthetically appeal- 
ing, interesting esoteric, even exotic. It is a natural and helpful 
quality of our emotional mood; we hope for good fortune and pleas- 
ant thrills, even while we fear bad fortune or ennui; otherwise we 
should yield too readily to despair, fatalism, or pessimism, and the 
edge of our endeavors would be too easily dulled, our outlook too 
barren. The ignorance that is bliss is a rather primitive variety of 
the happiness, for which we sophisticated heirs of all the ages turn 
to the satisfactions of knowledge. Doubtless with the dissipation of 
ignorance we sacrifice some of our blissful perquisites; for such is 
the story of the tree of knowledge. Opposed to Freud's pleasure 
principle is his reality principle. We are forced to make terms with 
fact and face the actual world, however harsh it may prove to be, 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 285 

or indifferent to our deep desires. Hence the conflict logical, 
moral, and social, which makes life a struggle, often an ordeal. A 
secondary Freudian mechanism is rationalization, finding in logical 
reasons the justifications of our emotionally inspired motives. 

A third approach to the same conclusion comes from psychiatry, 
the truly modern study of the mind's aberrations. It likewise has 
contributed to the coinage of our psychological vocabulary. Bleuler 
called it autistic thinking, home-spun, or self-starting, but now pre- 
fers to call it dereisticj or deviating from the real, and finds its pat- 
terns in simple or elaborate design, in the fully blossomed delusions 
of the insane, and the "insanoid," the mentally unstable. Autistic 
thinking is an ardently pursued and intensive wish-thinking, with 
a large range of expression, from innocent vagaries to unchecked ex- 
travagancies fatal to the integrity of reason. And now in the year 
1926 appears a populariser of the doctrine, who, feeling the lack of 
a term to describe the persuasive mental habit, which he finds as 
current in the select philosophies and scientific centers as in the 
forums and market-places and gossiping circles of the every-day 
world invents one and calls it thobbing. Generally speaking, men 
don't think; they just thob. "When a person THinks without 
curiosity, has an Opinion because he likes it, Believes what is handy 
then he THOBS. The mental life of the race has been a 
tumultuous chaos of thob, thob, thob." (Henshaw Ward: Thob- 
bing, A Seat at the Circus of the Intellect. 1926). Mr. Ward, 
who thus comments on the passing show of the vanity of knowledge 
from "a seat at the Circus of the Intellect," would have made a 
stronger case had he avoided the fallacy of indiscrimination the 
usual trap for cynics or reminded himself that the obsequies of 
grave scientists are not held at a circus; but that is a venial trans- 
gression of logic or taste. In truth, thobbing abounds; but the 
thobbing of the disciplined mind attempting the role of leadership 
which attracts Mr. Ward's bludgeon, is of a finer texture and differ- 
ently motivated from the thobbing of the ordinary man; though, 
possibly if we go back far enough, the two have a common gen- 
ealogy, or motivation history. 

There is a popular primitive thobbing, suggested by Mr. Burgess* 
welcome distinction between "bromides" and "sulphites." Mr. Ward's 
artillery is directed against sulphitic thobbing. But we do better to 
take our psycho-social heredity seriously, and accept Professor Levy- 
Bruhl's suggestive finding that the intellectual products of early man 



286 JOSEPH JASTROW 

present a pre-logical stage of mentality. Not only are the "primitive's" 
interests differently oriented, but the concepts by which he interprets 
the world which to him is of his making as ours is of ours are 
differently centered ; and consequently his beliefs move in a different 
logical medium also they are directed by a different animus. In con- 
trast to ours they lack objectivity. The part of a phenomenon to 
adopt as neutral a word as is available which to him is a fact is to 
us an alien, a crude and bizarre interpretation. There thus arises 
a world that may be simply called a world of magic, an authentic 
folk-lore product, attractively portrayed by Andrew Lang and Ed- 
ward Clodd for ready understanding, and giving rise to an apprecia- 
tion of the place of primitive mentality in our psychological age the 
result of many contributions from master minds. Viewed from a 
different approach it is a world of mysticism; under another shift of 
perspective it becomes the occult world; under still another a world 
of myth and fairy-tale; restrospectively from a mature sophisticated 
outlook, a world of credulity or superstition. The constitution of 
that world and the forces and types of ideas operative in it are for- 
tunately familiar, for its products in the genera and species of belief 
have never become extinct. They continue as survivals (an anthro- 
pological term introduced by Tylor) and cluster about animism 
(another term of Tylor's), which means that the forces of nature, the 
happenings of our real and the primitive imaginary world are pat- 
terned upon human emotions, beliefs, motives, and thus register the 
naive psychology of the primitive man, seeing nature in his own image. 
Such is the anthropological I had almost said the anthropoid 
source of (some phases of) Psychical Research, which it will repay 
to consider closely. 

II 

Of the score of beliefs that play a part continuously from primitive 
folk-lore to the most scientifically formulated Psychical Research, 
two must suffice for illustration. ( 1 ) The first is the total concep- 
tion of the world (what to us is a physical cosmos plus a psychological 
experience, but which to less schooled minds is confusedly merged) 
as centered about human personalised interests, and dominated by 
forces thus motivated, a Weltanschauung that produces a world 
of magic, mysticism, occultism. A spiritistic rendering is just one, 
but an historically important formulation of it. This fused psycho- 
physical (and so much more inherently psychic than physical) world 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 287 

of early culture-stages, whether projected in (a) folk-lore, in (b) 
pseudo-scientific, or in (c) scientific (the term for the moment im- 
plying intention and ambition rather than conformity to an exacting 
logical standard) usually engenders either as the dominant interpreta- 
tion or as a by-product, a spiritistic other- world reference. (2) The 
other central, pivotal idea is the existence of unusual individuals in 
touch with these forces, capable of commanding them, interpretating 
them, responsive to them, in brief and in extenso, mediums; hence 
the convenient phrase, originated I believe by Flournoy, mediumistic 
phenomena. Occultism as a primitive philosophy extending the 
term to the pre-logical and early logical stages and the medium^ the 
sensitive, the magician, the seer, the exorcist, the forecaster, the pre- 
monitionist, and the associated caste of personae of the psychic occult 
drama, speak the folk-lore prologue to Psychical Research. Whether 
we accept it as drama or as science or as religion, it has unmistakably 
this genealogical or evolutionary affiliation. 

It would take us too far afield to document this conclusion. What 
must be made plain is that the "primitive mentality" and "folk-lore" 
evidence establishes as a universal product of the human mind a psy- 
chically animated, personally significant, occult world, bristling with 
forces (in later stages calmly and objectively apportioned to the 
several sciences) that must be faced, or appeased, or avoided, or con 
stantly considered in the daily behavior, and which holds the clue of 
cause and effect in regard to everything that occurs to man here 
and hereafter. Charms and amulets, totems and taboos, fortune- 
telling and auguries, the hidden arcana of nature in signs and sym- 
bols, and the resulting paraphernalia of rites and ceremonies, grow out 
of the common belief in some form of occultism, that underlies, inter- 
penetrates, accompanies and reconstitutes and gives higher significance 
to the practical world of occupation ; by its dominance it stands as an 
obstacle to the discovery of material cause and effect in the natural- 
istic scheme as we moderns know it so familiarly and dominantly. 
The story of thinking is the story of the long struggle and slow 
emergence of the single-threaded scientific view of things as they 
present themselves to an objective observation, detached from a per- 
sonalised interpretation of the meaning of events and forces. 

As an interlude, consider a trivial instance and the trifling is often 
telling by the very obviousness of its irrelevance. Should any one of 
our friends let slip the bromidic observation that it always rains when 
he sets out for the day without an umbrella, we comment charitably 



288 JOSEPH JASTROW 

upon his indulgence in a feeble bit of wit if, as we assume, he is 
a rationalist, or in a feeble bit of occultism if he is serious. The 
provocation may be sufficient to the manipulator of the collar-button 
that, when dropped, is spirited away to unfindable space of unknown 
dimensions to regard this behavior of the law of gravity not, as in 
responsible moments, as a dull neutral principle of physics, but as a 
personally directed malicious conspiracy. Nor is the logic any dif- 
ferent when one accepts the forced cancellation of a passage on a ship 
that meets with disaster as actually or almost providential. Such 
harmless (or harmful) "thobs" belong to the order of thinking that 
builds the kind of a world from which we have laboriously emerged, 
and have in inclination but partially outgrown. It has recently been 
captioned: The Escape from the Primitive. 1 

In its own right the folk-lore world is an engaging one, and the 
range of its inclusions runs the gamut of human interests, concerns, 
ventures. Its records and products are human documents of sig- 
nificance for evolutionary psychology ; and its logic well merits serious 
study. But for the practical logic of science it offers like the light- 
houses erected on dangerous reefs illumination by which to steer 
away from them. The limitations of the present apercu cannot give 
it the rivid, varied, and rich illustration which its importance in the 
evolution of thinking and its bearing on certain phases of Psychical 
Research warrant. Its wealth of deposits uncovered by modern psy- 
cho-archaeological excavations shows at all levels cultural and psy- 
chical relics wrought in the hey-day and the grey day of occultism, 
using this term to indicate a fairly complex and variable philosophy. 
If we could enter into the mental occupations of a thorough-going 
occultist's life whether in a primitive cave-dwelling or nomadic 
setting, or in a reconstructed retreat of a latter-day renaissance, we 
might realize what a different world would be ours if the Psychical 
Research temper or inclination (or its issues) were actually carried 
out behavioristically in a day of busy twentieth-century occupation 
and interpretation; or, since there is slight temptation to such pro- 
jection, how double a mental life, how disintegrated a personality 
would appear if there were projected upon the same screen side by 
side the occult and the scientific occupations and contemplations of 
a latter-day would-be rationalist. 



^arncross: The Escape from the Primitive. 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 289 

III 

It would likewise be worth while to consider the higher stages of 
the development of occultism, as it survives or is revised in a cultural 
stream of rich interests, and has in some measure absorbed and been 
amalgamated with the scientific technique and products of a later 
epoch. Such products we may call pseudo-science, prominent in the 
mediaeval renaissance of earlier lores and knowledge searches and 
researches which the true reconstructive logical renaissance had in 
turn to encounter and displace. So obvious was the disparity, along 
with the temptation to pursue both knowledges as a source of power, 
that the distinction of white magic morally and logically accredited 
and black magic, of diabolical repute was almost inevitable. If 
we could turn back to the workshop of a Roger Bacon in fact and a 
Dr. Faustus in fiction, we might be in doubt whether we were pro- 
jected to a primitive laboratory or an occult mediumistic seance- 
chamber. Some of the apparatus would suggest a physical experi- 
ment and magic has been called the physics of the primitive mind 
while other procedures would suggest esoteric invocations of super- 
normal powers from another world, readily paralleled in their temper 
in the naive annals of modern Spiritualism or in the gravely respect- 
able proceedings of a reputable Society for Psychical Research. Nor 
is this imaginative excursion quite unfounded; for of the Bacon of 
the 13th (the unluckily numbered) century it is reported that he was 
banished from England to a bookless and instrumentless prison in 
France on a charge of black magic, for conducting an order of in- 
quiry for which, had he lived in the days of the more pretentious but 
less experimental Bacon of two centuries later, he might have been 
honored as a pioneer in the cause of science. Yet neither Bacon was 
free from credulity and an acceptance of terms for reality. The white 
and black magics were construed as beneficent or malicious employ- 
ment; yet science and occultism physics and magic find their com- 
pleter contrast not alone in the morale of their employment but in 
the objective spirit, and the animus of the pursuit even more than 
in the procedures. Compensatory to the motto of the premier pas 
qui coute would be en toutes choses il faut consider er le fin. The 
Baconian purposes rise through and above their methods. 

To make this reference more intelligible and concrete in its varied 
pertinence to the problems of Psychical Research, we might recon- 
sider alchemy for its lesson that a mixture of practical purpose, tech- 



290 JOSEPH JASTROW 

nical skill and appliances, and fanciful theory is as likely to be barren 
in one application as in another. The Institute of Metapsychics at 
Paris perhaps the most impressive home of Psychical Research of 
today is not an alchemistic retreat; but most men of science would 
feel as much out of place in the one as in the other, would regard 
both as equally mistaken however sincere enterprises, mistaken in 
logical foundations as well as in conception of purpose and in loyalty 
to the spirit of science. Astrological beliefs have a wider survival or- 
bit, yet have no more place in the present-day concerns of laymen and 
scientists alike; they may be cited to recall the important logical 
lesson that the interpretation of cosmic events for their personal sig- 
nificance is an abomination (as James called it from a moral out- 
look) or a perverse employment of knowledge from the logical as- 
pect. The admonitions, premonitions, phantasms and the like that 
figure in certain phases of the annals of Psychical Research are open 
to the like condemnation. When we come to the arts of divination, 
richly represented in the older occultism, in the mediaeval and later 
revivals, and in Psychical Research, we may be dealing with the same 
order of intellectualistic misemployment, or we may be on the track 
of the genuine psychological problem of how subconscious mechanisms, 
when ignored, or as yet undiscovered, support a belief in peculiarly 
endowed individuals or systems of relation, which a rationalistic ex- 
planation in involuntary movements founded on subconsciously reg- 
istered indications, converts into an illuminating experiment an in- 
troduction to "trance" psychology. 

Trance states and automatisms when studied in a different temper 
and interest make definite contributions to psychology. If we turn 
to the history of mesmerism animal magnetism as Mesmer called it 
we are again moving in the same realm of falsely assumed cosmic 
powers, whereas the proper recognition of the induced states contri- 
butes to a knowledge of the inner mechanisms of psychic response, 
normal and abnormal. If we choose dreams and their interpretation, 
we have a similar contrast of explanation from mystic or theosophic 
or premonitional accounting to the truly psychological interpretations 
of Freud and the Freudian school. Clairvoyance would serve as well 
to indicate the range from the assumption of inspiration, transcendent 
gifts, to mistaken and distorted evidence, an imperfect hold on the 
logic of coincidence, and a general inexpertness in the handling of a 
problem which in this instance is capable of a scientific test, when 
conceived as telepathy, again but a name for an hypothesis. The 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 291 

sources of error in the entire "mind-reading" evidences are manifold ; 
either the results have proved negative when the experimnt was rigid- 
ly conducted, or the "data" again illustrate the intrusion of the mar- 
vellous through the oversight of involuntary indications, and ever 
again of the fallacy of the personal motive, the belief, at times the 
cry of despair, that when human life is at stake, laws will be sus- 
pended and the heavens open or fall. It is the old story of the com- 
ment upon the models of ships suspended from the ceilings of churches 
in grateful acknowledgment of rescue from shipwreck: "Where are 
the models of those who went down at sea?" 

In brief, touch the argument where you will, the Anschauung, or 
outlook along with the evidence in crude anthropological lore, in 
fanciful systems, in partly scientized test or proof is of a nature all 
compact, though in detail widely divergent. The logical critic may 
well insist that the problem must be considered as a whole ; that one is 
not warranted in isolating the more recent claims, positions, theories, 
evidence which by disciplined and informed minds formulated under 
a growing sense of logical responsibility (which is itself the result 
of that very scientific spirit which such claims in part ignore), and 
regard this form of evidence as totally distinct in animus, in origin, 
or in reliability from that which preceded it. One does not accuse 
the modern occultist, the modern Psychical Researcher of the same 
credulity, the same sponsorship of unverified and far-fetched hy- 
potheses that gave rise so abundantly to the ancient stock of mar- 
vels, and as well to procedures and presentations of claims and evi- 
dence, to concepts and arguments which find slight hold to-day; and 
which the responsible Psychic Researcher, to whom at the moment 
I am addressing myself, would spurn as vigorously, and relegate to 
an outgrown stage of intellectualism as readily as would we his op- 
ponents in the modern issue. What cannot be avoided is the charge 
of a common weakness in logical armament, a prejudiced interpreta- 
tion, a hospitality to extreme, unscientific hypotheses, an overlooking 
or too complacent dismissal of the sources of error, which gave rise 
to the Psychical Research counterpart of what was and remains 
the ancient error of occultism. Such errors, fallacies, intellectual mis- 
employments, congenial convictions have, then, a folk-lore, a pseudo- 
scientific, and a modernly fallacious status and origin with enough 
in common running through them all to justify their inclusion in one 
evolutionary picture. They contribute covertly and overtly to the 
animus of Psychical Research. And in so holding we are charitably 



292 JOSEPH JASTROW 

disregarding the grossly credulous systems and beliefs, spiritualistic 
extravagances, the irresponsible statements and messages from the be- 
yond, the autistic ravings or fancies, the grotesque travesties of 
imaginary science, and the lucrative exploitations of human emotions 
for greed or gain or notoriety, which those who seek them to-day 
and yesterday will readily find. We remain in the relatively re- 
spectable "West end" and not the depraved "East end" or Cheapside 
of the cult, in the nearly normal and not in the borderland of the 
abnormal and beyond. 2 

Yet this hop, skip, and jump over an extensive domain, far-reach- 
ing in time and in latitude and longitude of culture even more than 
of history or geography, affords but a glimpse and a moment of arrest 
upon one or another of the features of the common ihise en scene in 
the psychic drama of the world and its meaning in law and purpose 
and destiny, which the human imagination, aided by logical skill or 
hampered by its limitations, has ever been able to construct to its own 
level of intellectual satisfaction ; to find evidence for it in observation 
and incident, to systematise it into some sort of philosophy; to keep 
it alive by rite and ceremony; and in belief and practice to formulate 
what to most of us seems an uncouth medley, to the believer a cher- 
ished union of science and occultism, ever revolving in irregular or- 
bits about the two foci of (1) mystic, personally regulated forces 
transcending those apparent in the physical universe or as yet not 
analysed out of a primitive synthesis which to the rationalist seems a 
dire confusion, and (2) the appearance of exceptional individuals in 
touch with this supernormal world and proving their communion in a 



*I am aware that I am not doing justice to a small group of Psychic Re- 
searchers, who regard the possibility of transcendent forms of psychic activity 
as an hypothesis to be entertained in the interests of tolerance and the open 
mind along with the large range of obscure, unexplored, and puzzling phe- 
nomena at the frontiers of all sciences, and who personally remain immune 
to the relatively extreme interpretations and to the acceptance of the ques- 
tionable evidence offered to substantiate them. My excuse is two-fold; 
first that they form a small group, and if they happen to be psychologists 
a definitely divergent opinion, and that the more typical course is for those 
at first fairly critical to yield to less critical beliefs as they go on. In these 
unrepresentative cases there is no animus. The second reason is that this 
approach requires a different type of consideration which I have attempted 
in an essay on "The Will to Believe in the Supernatural" in my Psychology 
of Conviction. This note is pertinent also to the case studies to which I re- 
fer in the concluding section of this discourse. 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 293 

variety of mediumistic phenomena. The final touch which the science 
of abnormal psychology revealed to a belated enlightenment illumin- 
ated the scattered sources of such abnormality in quite a different 
sense, and this psychopathic insight in part converting the super- 
normal into the abnormal has become to our day and generation 
an integral part of the rationalisation of the occult, a phrase which 
expresses more correctly than the title of my address the specific theme 
which I am thus far pursuing. 

To conclude, we may include what to omit would be to ignore 
a most prominent example of the occult in operation, the doctrine of 
witchcraft, a familiar folk-lore belief, usually quiescent but sporadic- 
ally fanned into flame by religious fanaticism, the latest outburst in 
an enlightened New England. There is none of the phenomena in- 
cluded in the categories of "Psychical Research" for which the evi- 
dence is more abundant, versatile, and comprehensive than that for 
witchcraft as a reality, and for specially endowed persons capable of 
the practice. And yet there is no belief for which we have less in- 
clination, despite the magnitude, the respectability, and the authen- 
ticity of the evidence. It is to us sterile, and, except historically, un- 
real, unattractive to our consideration, for the all sufficient reason that 
in intellectual concept, in moral mood, in quality of evidence, it falls 
completely out of the scheme of things, as we frame it. We can point 
to no comprehensive investigation by which it was disproved, either 
by a scientific commission of inquiry or a hospitably minded Society 
for Psychical Research. It was simply outgrown, and does not de- 
mand, as do other sets of belief not quite in the same class yet not 
quite out of it, that still flourish and reappear in more modern setting 
and consequently play a part in a controversial inquiry, sufficient im- 
portance to be selected as the subject of a course of lectures in a pro- 
gressive New England University. Witchcraft has been rationalised 
out of existence; not so ectoplasm or telekinesis or cryptesthesia, all 
more "classic" and laboratoryized hypotheses, which, to venture on 
prophecy, will by the further progress of the same intellectualistic 
readily erased between the observational fact and the inferential 
movement meet with the same fate. Let us add a concrete detail, 
or two, which will once more set in clear relation the dividing line so 
belief. 

An additional reason for citing witchcraft is not only the volumin- 
ousness of the evidence, but its circumstantiality. The argument is 
often advanced that "imagination" in the popular sense cannot create 



294 JOSEPH JASTROW 

itemized details of perception which is often what is offered as a 
fact. Yet when in one instance eight witnesses, four men and four 
women, affirmed on oath that they had seen visiting the suspected 
witch "A white thing in the likeness of a Cat, yet not altogether so 
big, a white dog with some sandy spots and very short legs, and 
Vinegar Tom, a greyhound with long legs", we must not go too far 
in emphasizing the different play that we give to our imagination in 
that age and in this. Beliefs create facts then and now; and when 
the beliefs fade away the evidence ceases to occur. The specific evi- 
dence appears when and where the belief prevails and not elsewhere, 
or any other time, and at the level and in the terms of the intellectual 
status, the knowledge and the logic and the practical skill of the 
believers. The moral holds, and that is the pertinent consideration. 

Again, on the bodies of witches were found insensitive areas ; these 
were pointed to as proof that a compact had been made with the 
devil; for the seal of his power was the law-defying spots produced 
by his touch. Pins to test these diabolical spots are exhibited in the 
Salem museum. We now know that such anaesthetic spots occur in 
hysterical cases. The fact was a real fact ; but what a painfully slow 
and laborious course in rationalism the human race had to undergo, 
what varieties of disciplines had to be cultivated, before the one type 
of interpretation could give way to the other. From witchcraft to 
hysteria (and shall I say from Salem to Worcester?) is a long, mo- 
mentous journey through busy centuries; and the story may be read 
in full historical perspective in Andrew D. White's monumental work. 
The present citation is only by way of contrast of the "white" logic 
of science and the "black" logic of the occult. Before considering the 
actual phenomena by means of which a small band of modern votaries 
aim to establish the reality of "facts" that have a similar implication, 
it is indispensable to realise, fully, vividly, and concretely, just how 
momentous is the issue at stake. 

IV 

It is true that the growing spirit of science in all thought and ac- 
tivity and outlook profoundly affects the mode of inclusion of what in 
the older setting was the occult, in the newer the supernormal, in the 
newest the metapsychical interpretation, all of which take their 
places in the present exposition as a continuous development, with 
an ever advancing standard of "scientific" claim and values. In the 
world-picture run on a rapid reel we may envisage in closest jux- 
taposition the old and the new ; the unfolding panorama of the occult- 
ist evolution runs through the ages with a growing approximation to 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 295 

the methods of science in some instances, and more commonly in a 
current wholly detached. In general the present day temper of Psy- 
chical Research realizes definitely its obligation to the logic of science ; 
it claims in its uppermost level of exposition a place for exceptional 
phenomena under the same rigor of evidence, the same modus pro- 
bandi by which have come the accredited findings of all science. From 
that height it ranges down to a crude occultism, a nai've credulity, an 
uncritical, autistic indulgence as much out of range of our scientific 
prospect as the mediaeval or the primitive acceptance. In residential 
status, it spreads from the most select purlieus of the intelligentsia to 
the veriest slums of belief, where we shall not attempt to follow it. 
The literature of the "occult" in all its ramifications would require 
a vast library to house the printed records of its assertions, revelations, 
systems, and claims ; perhaps a few rods of these shelves would suffice 
to set forth the essence of the story in so far as it is still of interest and 
still affects the beliefs of modern times; and a few feet would con- 
tain all that were composed under the intention or the conviction of 
loyalty to the logically evidential standards of our critical day. If 
among these I select one that in such intention clearly stands in the 
first rank, it would be the "Thirty Years of Psychical Research" of 
Charles Richet, a physiologist of distinction, the holder of a Nobel 
prize in science, honored in his years by the very colleagues who re- 
pudiate sharply his very position, if indeed they take it seriously, in- 
stead of viewing it with a mingling of respect, dismay, and amaze- 
ment. 

Certainly in opposing to the last ditch the conclusions and the 
animus of Psychical Research I can do no less than select as its ex- 
ponent the most favorable example of the position involved. I choose 
the book of Richet because he so explicitly recognises the implication 
of the entire movement; there is no question of compromise or eva- 
sion. The issue remains steadily a question of truth or error, of the 
most baffling truth ever vouchsafed to the mind of man, or of. the 
most stupendous error; it is either the golden book of wisdom or the 
dross record of folly. So decisive an issue is entitled to a new 
terminology; the book is called a "Treatise on Metapsychics." It 
heralds not only a new science, but marks the dividing line challeng- 
ing all science. And all this is admitted by Richet, the convinced 
advocate of the metapsychical world after thirty years of investiga- 
tion, quite as readily as by myself, as equally convinced after a like 
period of consideration of the baselessness of the entire structure. As 



296 JOSEPH JASTROW 

I see it, we must accept for better or for worse, for richer or poorer 
the one kind of a world which presents an orderly, logical, objective 
system of events and the laws of their conditioning, from which 
"metapsychics" is excluded and the seeming exceptions to normal 
behavior of things the human powers, is to be otherwise accounted 
for on a naturalistic basis ; or a world shot through or streaked with 
rare incidents of transcendence of the usual laws of matter and mind, 
in which things happen in accord with a very different system of re- 
lations; a world as sharply opposed to the one which most men of 
science recognise as is a flat world, with the sun travelling over it 
for human benefit, to a round world spinning on its axis in a math- 
ematical orbit about an indifferent sun. We may give up without 
regret, except for the retrospective reference, the "occult" and all its 
implications and accept the ' 'metapsychics" of Richet. The trial is 
on ; it is either Psychology alive and Metapsychics dead, or vice versa. 
Still more; it is Science or Meta-science : Richet and a handful of 
similarly minded combatants against the entire personnel of Cattell's 
"American Men of Science," supplemented by a like selection of the 
leaders in science in all other countries where a similar directory 
could be compiled. 

In this and many of the illustrations that follow I am giving 
preference to the French Psychical Researchers because they so ex- 
plicitly proclaim the challenge of science, and have carried their con- 
clusions boldly to their consequences. There is an English counter- 
part which even more explicitly aims at "psychic science", and spon- 
sors a "College" with a like experimental equipment, and an equal 
adherence to the procedures of the laboratory, yet (with few excep- 
tions) introducing the very element that violates the conditions of 
a critical test. As a consequence equally extravagant conclusions, 
equally obvious logical discrepancies and aberrations, equally gro- 
tesque travesties of scientific procedure, equal credulities, could be 
cited from English sources. And it remains characteristic as in the 
publication called "Psychic Studies" that fairly critical and re- 
strained expositors of experiences, who though they accept a super- 
normal explanation do so with a commendable sense of responsibility, 
find themselves in the company of irresponsible, and fantastic specu- 
lators, revelling in the miraculous, and committed to the acceptance 
as genuine, of evidence so repeatedly proven fraudulent that there is 
no rhyme or reason for raising the ancient issues in the terms of 
modernised and seemingly scientized performances. It is noteworthy 
that some contributors and adherents of this movement begin in the 
one class, and as they proceed grow into the other; their logical 
stability recedes as their "psychic" experience advances. The animus 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 297 

of the French or the English or any other similarly constituted eso- 
teric group is not minutely but generically comparable. 

Assuming, then, that what Richet wishes mostly that his readers 
should know appears in the introductory pages, we read: 

"I have endeavored to write on science, not on dreams ; and I have 
therefore confined myself to a statement of facts and discussions of 
their actuality, not only without advancing any theory, but scarcely 
mentioning theories, for all theories as yet proposed to account for 
metapsychic facts seem to me terribly frail ; . . .to establish the facts 
is our primary duty and our only duty; the facts are facts; they are 
numerous, authentic, and startling. . . I do not see how any man 
of science can cast doubt upon all of them ..." 

"The three fundamental phenomena of this new science can be 
summed up in three sentences. 

(1) Cryptesthesia (the lucidity of former writers) is a faculty of 
cognition that differs from the normal sensorial faculties. 

(2) Telekinesis is a mechanical action that differs from all known 
mechanical action, being exerted at a distance and without contact 
on persons and objects, under certain determinate conditions. 

(3) Ectoplasm (the materialization of former writers) is the 
formation of diverse objects, which in most cases seem to emerge 
from a human body and take on the semblance of material realities 
clothing, veils, and living bodies. 

"These make up the whole of metapsychics. It seems to me that 
to admit this much is to admit a great deal. To go farther is to go 
beyond the present limits of science." 

"It has been my intention to remove from the facts called "occult," 
many of which are indisputably true supernatural and mystical im- 
plications." 

"I shall divide our subject-matter into Objective [(2) and (3) 
above] and Subjective Metapsychics f(l) above]" 

"The assassination of Queen Draga was announced in Paris. . . at 
the very minute that it was committed in Belgrade, by a medium who 
could have had no normal means of cognizance of this crime. This 
is a fact of subjective metapsychics." 
table her hands, her feet, her knees, her waist, her head, and her 

"Eusapia Palladino placed her hands half a yard above a heavy 
mouth were all held ; the table rose off its legs without contact. This 
is a fact of objective metapsychics." 

"The facts of metapsychics are neither more nor less mysterious 
than the phenomena of electricity, of fertilization and of heat. They 
are not so usual ; that is the whole difference." 

"Mediums have not hitherto been treated with justice; they have 
been slandered, ridiculed and vilified. . . If by any chance a powerful 
physical medium or sensitive were discovered, instead of leaving such 
a one to the curiosity of the ignorant, to journalists, and to ladies who 



298 JOSEPH JASTROW 

consult them on a lost dog or a faithless lover, they should be assured 
of liberal board and lodging, perhaps more, to prevent their medium- 
ship being degraded by base necessities ... In short, mediums should 
be claimed for science severe, just and generous science instead of 
allowing their wonderful faculties to be prostituted by childish cre- 
dulity or damaging contempt . . . Metapsychic problems should be 
treated as problems of pure physiology. . . Let us experiment with 
these rare, privileged and wonderful persons and remember that they 
deserve to be treated with all respect, but also that they must never 
be trusted." 

In these less than six hundred words from a book of more than six 
hundred pages, there are involved enough logical fallacies (I use the 
term in the liberal sense of any distinctive deviation from accepted 
principles of reasoning) to occupy a class of sophomores profitably and 
with only an elementary depth of analysis for six hours, and a class 
of graduate students prepared to enter into all the ramifications of 
the logical intrigue for six weeks. With every desire to consider with 
respect the arguments of a distinguished man of science, I cannot com- 
ment in any other terms than those of complete amazement upon the 
singular and naive lack of the logical flair, that measure of logical 
penetration by no means uncommon in competent sophomores. I can 
hardly bring myself to do more than ask a few doubtless disrespectful 
questions. Is M. Richet by chance logic blind, as some otherwise 
normal individuals are color blind? Is it possible that M. Richet 
does not see that in crediting as facts the thousand and one things 
that transcend the scientific experience, and which he admits are 
wholly discredited by his scientific confreres, he is woefully begging 
the question or befogging the issue? Is he unaware that he is as- 
suming, inferring, conjecturing, asserting, imagining or thobbing the 
theory that they are of supernormal origin? Is he unaware that 
while professing to refrain from theories, he is none the less theorising, 
subtly theorising, boldly theorising at every step? Unaware that the 
metapsychic position is no less a theory, indeed a highly speculative 
fantastic hypothesis, an extravagant conjecture, quite as much as the 
theory of spirit agency which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle holds with 
every defiance of elementary logic, but which Professor Richet regards 
as a needless or unfounded theory in the special sense of a detailed 
modus operandi or "mechanism" theory of how the effects are pro- 
duced, but which effects he regards as of supernormal origin quite as 
much as does Conan Doyle? 

But a text in elementary logic, doubtless as accessible in France or 



THB ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 299 

England as in this country, would set forth the several levels and 
values of theories in concept, in origin, in motivation, in intrinsic 
probability, in defiance or conformity of established norms, in general 
scientific status, and make clear that spirit belief or ectoplasm as a 
metapsychic phenomenon is on the same illegitimate footing. It is the 
animus of a theory that decides its even possible consideration. With 
due apology an elementary illustration may be offered. In regard to 
the theory of the planetary orbits Ptolemy was wrong and Copernicus 
was right, and Kepler and Newton righter and later still; but they 
were all considering an astronomical problem with the same animus, 
which brings them in the same line of intellectual descent, the same 
logical dynasty of science, the same loyalty to a scientific sovereignty 
however expressed. But an astrologer of Ptolemy's day might have 
been as well versed in the knowledge of the cosmos as was Ptolemy 
and as well endowed in mind ; but he worked with a different animus 
and thus belonged to a different logical allegiance; and the same is 
true of an astrology indulging Copernicus or Kepler or Newton; 
for it is true that some of their contemporaries of like animus were 
forced by the very different animus of their day to cast horoscopes 
for royal families in order to hold their positions, doubtless with a 
regret that not the stars but the psychological animus of their day im- 
posed this fate upon them. They kept their astronomy and their 
astrology (so far as they had to give it shelter) in well separated com- 
partments of their mental occupations. But how in the twentieth 
century a professor of physiology can find a free hospitality for con- 
cepts, theories, interpretations, which would so far delimit his chosen 
domain as to render it nugatory, passes my limited understanding. 

Perhaps this is not the effective approach. Should one stop or stoop 
to question whether the story of the clairvoyant perception of the 
Serbian tragedy from Paris to Belgrade would hold water under the 
mildest shower of examination? Must one convict the believer of 
the tale of hopeless credulity? Must one assume that Richet does 
not know that Palladino was repeatedly caught in the act of lifting 
the table telekinetically by the aid of her left leg and the broad flange 
on her flexible shoes? Must men of science be versed in detective 
craft? Sad queries these but inevitable ones, so long as the minds of 
men are subject to the limitations of their total psychology, so long 
as a few among the elect contribute observations and conclusions 
recklessly challenging on evidence, flimsy, questionable, crude, and 
confused, the claims of accredited science, which in the interests of 



300 JOSEPH JASTROW 

public sanity and intellectual welfare, if of nothing else, cannot be 
ignored. 

V 

Such, then, is the burden of my theme: the one critical aspect of 
Psychical Research which I have selected for emphasis. For the rest 
of the equally legitimate problems and inquiries that, I readily admit, 
should be considered, I can only plead the limitations of time and 
space. Yet in a sense, they are a matter of detail, of important de- 
tail it may be. Had I a second essay at my disposal, I should willing- 
ly meet the issue as a question of logical analysis or evidential value, 
This has been done with extraordinary skill and admirable patience 
by Dr. Tuckett 8 and with a critically negative verdict; and it re- 
quired a considerable volume for only a portion of the task. Since 
the days of his contribution the task has been made more complex by 
the additional and remodelled claims advanced in recent years. All 
I can do is to make plain what the nature of that task would be, what 
kinds of considerations the logical and psychological student of "Psy- 
chical Research" in the second quarter of the twentieth century 
would be called upon to ponder and discuss. 

The reference to Dr. Tuckett's volume gives occasion to indicate 
the two standards of evidence naturally not unrelated, for all logic 
is one commonly employed : evidence in the legal and in the scientific 
sense; the former referring to the standards upon which we act in 
adjusting justice, hence the practical temper, and the latter in ap- 
praising the strength of conclusions, which in turn as clues alike to 
belief and practice we must apply with some risk and in such venture 
often find corroboration or disproof. Mr. Tucketts' critique applies 
to both phases. He places certain conclusions on trial and indicates 
the steps by which a verdict is reached and what it is. In the course 
of the argument the testimony of science as an expert and the weak- 
ness of the conclusions as scientific theories are laid bare. To follow 
this phase would require an extension of the logical approach with 
which I began ; one could do justice to it only in an independent essay 
which would form an interesting chapter in the story of thinking. 
The one point I should single out for emphasis relates to the meaning 
of fallacy in the light of psychology. For as Miss Bradby has set forth 
with marked ability in a valuable volume that has by no means 
received the attention it merits (M. K. Bradby: the Logic of the 
Subconscious Mind) a fallacy is but the result of a psychological pre- 
dilection which bends conclusions out of their orbit, towards beliefs 
cherished by emotional, including aesthetic trends. Among such 



'Ivor Tuckett: Evidence of Supernatural. 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 301 

fallacies she includes "The Fallacy of the Marvellous*', and cites the 
"spirit-rapping, levitation, and materialisation", beliefs of those who 
"misread the world in the light of their own weakness", and to whom, 
in contrast to the unromantic Peter Bell, "a primrose excites wonder 
if it can be shown to have a primrose-spirit interpenetrating its body 
and unamenable to known laws", and who through lack of a fully 
mature sense for reason are "more moved to admiration by the banal 
message which has disembodied spirit raps through a medium, than 
by the ripe fruit of a man's literary genius." It remains to add that 
the "fallacious" tendencies thus revealed exist in all sorts of shades 
and grades of beliefs, all conditions of believers, and exercise their 
sway subtly and subconsciously to shape delicately tempered predilec- 
tion far more commonly than they appear in rude and coarse measure, 
which would be intolerable to the developed standards of scientific 
procedure which likewise forms a part of the heritage of all think- 
ing people. It is only when thus projected against the background 
of the varieties of rationality and its limitations that the animus of 
Psychical Research appears in its true setting. The entire topic 
could be presented from this approach ; whether it is more profitable to 
study beliefs or believers, the logic of the argument or the psychology 
of the attraction of the conclusion to predisposed minds. 

In such necessarily foreshortened survey based upon a much 
larger expenditure of time and energy in skipping and plodding 
through recent literature than I can professionally justify I find 
some half a dozen major leads which will at least guide-post the dif- 
ficult territory which the adventurer must penetrate it may be a 
thicket, a jungle, a marsh, a quicksand, or an unexploited domain of 
hidden resources, as you prefer. Not to lose the trails, let them be 
enumerated. (1) The Case Study Trail. The interesting question 
of the several types of the mental make-up of the small group of men 
of standing who subscribe, often with the passion of a devotee, to the 
reality of the supernormal. Here lies the material for a worthwhile 
psycho-biographical study; it would be a "psychological doctor look- 
ing at the biography" of Psychical Researchers. (2) The second 
trail branches from it : The Scientific Bias Trail. To show how each 
exponent follows the bent that has become his through special study 
and interest in one and another of the scientific disciplines to which 
he owes the guidance of his intellectual life ; his attempt to maintain 
or express his allegiance while in very fact repudiating it. (3) The 
third is the Trial of Automatisms and Abnormalities. There is no 
doubt and this is one of the positive and constructive issues of the 
Psychical Research interest that there are individuals whose psychic 
procedures show deviations from the usual and who make use of 



302 JOSEPH JASTROW 

automatic mechanisms, interesting in their own right and readily 
utilizable, if one is so minded, as evidence of the supernormal. They 
shade over to the abnormal ; and it may or may not be wise to label 
a special trail criss-crossing the others: (4) The Paranoiac Trail. 
That some of the case-studies of believers, as well as the psychology 
of mediums, offer approaches to or actual inclusions in the para- 
noiac group, is unmistakable and significant. (5) The less well 
blazed Trail of Logical Procedure, with again the sub-trail of Fraud 
and another of Coincidence, which crosses or debouches into one or 
another of those indicated. In view of the fact that the most as- 
tounding conclusions are based upon performances that continue to 
arise, here, there, and elsewhere, it seems to be necessary for some 
one to formulate the logical conditions and criteria of evidence, in- 
cluding again the exclusion of fraud and chance. (6) The Trail of 
Subtle Residues. This is an open trail, the end of which is not in 
sight. It is well not to be dogmatic or final. There may be ways 
of indication, hints, and suggestions of sensory and perceptual type 
as yet unexplored, but to be explored in naturalistic manner, that 
may have a bearing upon apparent mind-reading and related phe- 
nomena when chance and the recognized avenues of communication 
have been given their due. This is not an open door to the super- 
normal, but like trance-states, hyperaesthesia, the processes of light- 
ning calculators, and the subtleties of quasi-psychopathic diagnosis, a 
domain in which a finer perception waits upon the offices of a su- 
perior and but partly conscious logic. The common terminal of all 
the trails is the rationalization of the (seemingly) occult. Only by 
following these routes will Psychical Research overcome its some- 
what questionable occupation and reputation, and become naturalized 
and assimilated in the organized system of highways and byways of 
Psychology, a consummation devoutly to be wished. 

VI 

And now to add the realism of illustration a few blaze-marks 
along one or another of these exploratory trails. To begin with 
the simplest, the "case" of Conan Doyle seems to me an instance of 
ordinary credulity, strange only because it is presented by a man of 
medical training, and the creator of the deductive skill of "Sherlock 
Holmes," who, however, unreal as a personality, is definitely real- 
istic in his method, and in unravelling mysteries never resorts to 
supernormal agencies but works with very material clues and ordin- 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 303, 

ary human motives. Conan Doyle believes that photographs do not 
lie, even when they are precisely of the character that have been 
proved fraudulent. He disregards the minutely circumstantial evi- 
dence of photographic fraud in the spiritualistic camp, which Mr. 
Prince has published after years of painstaking investigation; and 
Mr. Prince, far from being hostile to the "supernormal" position, is 
in so far sympathetic with Conan Doyle that he accepts as evi- 
dences of supernormal phenomena the revelations of private and in- 
accessible information through mediums and telepathists. Yet Mr. 
Prince is prepared to repudiate the amazing conclusions of the 
Society for the Study of Supernormal Photographs which Conan 
Doyle has founded; and would regard with the same scepticism 
Conan Doyle's conviction that fairies as well as spirits appear in 
photographs, even when the fairy photographs show the marks of 
the shears, consistent with the "Sherlock Holmes" conclusion that 
they have been cut from photographic or other prints. 4 Add to this 
his continued confidence in distrusted and "exposed" mediums, and 
such naive credulity need not detain us long. 

The case of Maurice Mseterlinck is in a measure more engaging. 
The fact that he is a man of letters and not of science is hardly 
material since Robert Browning wrote "Sludge the Medium" as 
a warning of suspicious fraud when some men of science of that 
day were inclined to be impressed. Mseterlinck is not a spiritualist 
only, but a miraculist. He collects miracles as others collect china 
or pewter. Anything sufficiently improbable and law-defying and 
interesting to believe he adds to his collection. He accepts mathe- 
matical horses who actually spell out his name with a German title 
by pawing with their hoofs. He assumes that, celebrity that he is, 
he can go incognito to mediums who read from a letter requesting 
his autograph the full, intimate details of his personality. This 
transcendent or translucent feat inspires the following rhapsody: 

"The sheet of paper handed to the psychometer and impregnated 
with human 'fluid* contains, after the manner of some prodigiously 
compressed gas, all the incessantly renewed, incessantly recurring 
images that surround a person, all his past and perhaps his future, 
his psychology, his taste of psychology, his state of health, his wishes, 
his intentions, often unknown to himself, his most secret instincts, his 
likes and dislikes, all that is bathed in light and all that is plunged 
in darkness, his whole life in short, and more than his personal and 



4 W. F. Prince: My Doubts about Psychic Photographs. Scientific Ameri- 
can, Dec., 1925. 



304 JOSEPH JASTROW 

conscious life, besides all the lives and all the influences, good or bad, 
latent or manifest, of all who approach him. We have a mystery as 
unfathomable and at least as vast as that of generation" etc., etc. 

Haunted houses, second sight, ghosts, wonder-cures, ouija boards, 
premonitions, divining rods, fortune telling everything is in the 
collection and all equally credible, equally cherished and embraced 
with the latest marvels of ectoplasm. (Note that even a miraculist 
wishes to rationalize and turns to the germplasm of heredity for an 
analogy for his cherished beliefs.) How the pleasure principle of 
the imagination and the reality principles of the practical world, in 
which even a Maeterlinck must make constant contact, keep house 
in the same tenement of clay must be left to one's psychological 
imagination. 

The Maeterlinckian type of mind is presumably common, though 
without the literary compensation. Its analysis would be interest- 
ing; so also that of the variety of logical fallacies underlying these 
cherished "arguments". They require (and furnish excellent ma- 
terial to illustrate) the revised version of fallacies as illuminated by 
psychology. The two largest sources derive from (1) the Freudian 
psychology of the wish, the sub-conscious unavowed wish frequent- 
ly, and from (2) the persistence of the primitive, which is more 
common that the survival of the childish for the sufficient reason that 
both the modern sophisticated and the primitive mind deal with the 
adult perspective of feeling, thought, and motive. Thus, this notion 
which Maeterlinck seizes from the floating mass of folk-lore belief, 
and puts in literary form is none other than the "law of contact" 
which Frazer formulates from primitive thinking: "That things 
which have touched one another continue to have an effect on one 
another"; and which Levy-Bruhl formulates more penetratingly in 
enlarging and deepening it to the "law of participation", including 
action and relation as well as appearance; or if we prefer a formu- 
lation nearer to our day and folk-lore level, there is John Wesley's 
description (1770) of the "Sympathy which is observed in things 
distant from one another ... So nothing is more common than if 
you throw a Mulberry or a Strawberry at a Woman with Child, 
the Child has the Mark of the one or the other, on the same Part 
which was struck with it. And these Marks grow Green, Yellow 
and Red every Year, just as those fruits do in the Garden. And 
when the Season of this is past, these subside and vanish away." 
Once more is illustrated how circumstantial is the "fact" that fol- 



THB ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 305 

lows a belief. There were days and ways of thinking in which 
Maeterlinck would not present the anomaly that he seems to a 
twentieth century setting. 

The case of Flammarion has affiliation with both the case studies 
reviewed, but the training is so exact a science as astronomy turns 
him to other analogies, while yet his collection of accredited tales 
from all corners of the world and all sorts and conditions of be- 
lievers is even more formidable. Many of them deal with appari- 
tions and premonitions at critical moments, particularly that of 
death. 

"Without doubt our Psychic force gives birth to an ethereal 
movement which is projected to a distance like all the vibrations of 
ether and is felt by all brains in harmony with our own. The 
transformation of a psychic action into an ethereal movement, and 
back, may be similar to that which we observe in the telephone." 
. . . "The action of one spirit on another, at a distance, especially 
in such grave circumstances as that of death and in particular of 
sudden death the transmission of thought, mental suggestion, com- 
munication at a distance, are not more extraordinary than the action 
of a magnet on iron, the attraction of the moon for the sea, the 
carrying of the human voice by electricity, the discovery of the 
chemical construction of a star through the analysis of its light, and 
other marvels of contemporary science. Only these psychic trans- 
missions are of a higher order and may set us on the road to knowl- 
edge of the human being." 

One wishes to be as respectful as one can. It may be true that 
the undevout astronomer is mad, but the superstitious astronomer is 
afflicted with a more serious mental defection. If one found such 
arguments or thobbings in a dream-book prepared for the unedu- 
cated or in the groping toward truth of an obscure fifteenth century 
writer, or in the pages of an irresponsible faddist, they would seem 
in place and negligible; but their provenance invites more serious 
reflections. Enough to say that if the predecessors of M. Flam- 
marion had indulged in such speculations and followed the animus 
of his procedure, there never would have been telephones, or electro- 
motors, or spectroscopes, or explanations of the tides. The two 
worlds are aeons of culture apart; and the attempt to spin a spider- 
web of tenuous analogy between them must be regarded as either 
a puerile device or the despairing rationalization of a conscience- 
stricken mind ; while the suggestion of "a higher order," like Richet's 
assumption of a "rarer" knowledge, adds the insult of confusion, the 



306 JOSEPH JASTRQW 

sacrilege of learning, to the injury of simple-mindedness, the mis- 
reading of appearance. 

I must include M. Geley in the budget of "cases" not only as the 
founder of the International Metapsychic Institute, but because he 
introduces the biological concept. He centres his case upon ecto- 
plasm and the notorious Eva C. from whose body seated in a dark 
cabinet exudes "a plastic paste, a true protoplastic mass", "remark- 
ably like that of the epiploon (caul)", the medium the while sigh- 
ing and moaning "like a woman in childbirth", . . . "the substance 
having immediate and irresistible tendency toward organization." 

"In the more complete cases the materialised organ has all the ap- 
pearance and biological function of a living organ. I have seen ad- 
mirably modelled fingers, with their nails; I have seen complete 
hands with bones and joints. I have seen a living head whose bones 
I could feel, etc." 

In brief here is meta-biology. The chrysalis acts like a dark 
cabinet on the grub; the insect is rematerialised and is then re-ma- 
terialised into the butterfly. Richet accepts the same flabbergasting 
hypothesis and speaks of these ectoplastic products as forms of em- 
bryogenesis, and actually records in sober narrative the appearance 
of a living ectoplastic midget; while Flammarion, not to be outdone, 
explains that "these ideoplastic materialisations demonstrate that the 
living being can no longer be considered as a mere cellular complex. 
It appears primarily as a dynamo-psychism, and the cellular complex 
which is its body appears as the ideoplastic product of this dynamo 
psychism. Thus the formations materialised in mediumistic seances 
arise from the same biological process as normal birth. They are 
neither more nor less miraculous or supernormal; they are equally 
so. The same ideoplastic miracle makes the hands, the face, the vis- 
cera, the tissues, and the entire organism of the foetus at the expense 
of the maternal body, or the hands, or the face, or the entire organs 
of a materialization." 

It is in view of these excesses in the pronouncements of men of 
science that I suggested the need of the paranoiac trail evident in 
delusionary ravings of less learned but not more extravagant fol- 
lowers who, lacking the stabliser of a scientific training, indulge 
freely in romancing satisfactions of revelations from the beyond. 

For good measure I add a citation from Dr. Boirac, Rector of the 
University of Dijon : 

"I place between the subject's hands the glass of water destined to 
receive the exteriorisation of his nerve force. I take a second glass of 
water destined to receive my own nerve force." . . Allowing sufficient 



THB ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 307 

time for "sensitiveness to be exteriorised", "I now take a U-shaped 
copper wire covered with gutta-percha, but revealing the bare metal 
at both ends... The wire thus plays the part of a conductor be- 
tween the two glasses." Under complete silence "the subject reacts 
with great vigor to every pinch (upon the skin of Dr. B.) as if 
feeling the pain quite acutely." "The act of pulling my hair caused in 
my subject a very painful sensation." "As I sipped a few drops of 
chartreuse, the subject . . . exclaimed, 'What are you making me 
drink? It is very strong; it seems like brandy.'" In such experi- 
ments (?) and the action of the thoughts of the dying, he sees some- 
thing similar to "Hertzian waves and wireless telegraphy." 

The case of Dr. Crawford is most instructive. He is an engineer ; 
his subject, the usual jeune femme of the drama, lifts a table and 
performs similar feats of what Richet calls telekinesis; but the ex- 
planation is that a psychic rod acting as a cantilever is exuded from 
the body of the medium and lifts the table or makes raps; and by 
adopting a code the "operators" (he does not like to call them 
spirits) by taps assure Crawford that his theory is correct. Sir 
Bryan Donkin, M.D., calls attention to the "superabundant expo- 
sure of the massive credulity and total defect of logical power dis- 
played by Dr. Crawford (who gives) the most pathetic picture of 
a willing victim of pernicious deception." Dr. Crawford committed 
suicide. After his death a further examination of the medium was 
made by the translator of the sumptuous volume of Schrenck-Notzing 
and Mme. Bisson, the sponsors of the ectoplastic performances of 
Eva C., which the translator credits as genuine; contrary to expec- 
tation he discovered definite evidence of fraud photographically docu- 
mented. He agrees with a hostile critic that "the cantilever which 
worked the experiments in Crawford's book was the leg of that 
Irish medium." The minute detail of apparatus and all the para- 
phernalia of an engineering experiment which fills the Crawford 
books must ever remain an amazing document in the story of the 
metapsychic. As proof of what prepossession can do to a trained 
mind the case is invaluable. 

I could continue indefinitely. Enough has been cited to show how 
each mind resorts to the legimate concepts of science, physical, bio- 
logical, mechanical to give the conclusions the appearance, really the 
pathetic travesty of a scientific demonstration, but ever with an un- 
derlying animus that nullifies and is wholly incompatible with the 
most elementary allegiance to science and logic alike. The cases of 
physical phenomena (objective in Richet's sense) may be referred to 



308 JOSEPH JASTROW 

clever and deliberate fraud ; but that is their lesser interest. The 
question of why such experiments (?) are devised and the conclu- 
sions advanced is more significant than are the details of how the 
effect is actually produced. The "Case" trial, and the trail of 
"Scientific Bias" appear clearly; and that of "Logical Procedure" 
no less. As soon as one type of performance is exposed another ap- 
pears; but the point emerges that if any such claim is to be met and 
its examination conducted after the logical pattern of an experiment, 
then the one supreme condition is that the experimenter and not the 
medium shall control the conditions. That indispensable require- 
ment is always evaded, though seemingly accepted. At the crudest 
we are told that light is inimical to these occult forces; so the shelter 
of darkness which nullifies the control is resorted to ; or if not that, 
the screen of the table which conceals the modus operandi; or one is 
forbidden to stand at the only place from which the operation could 
be detected; and there are curtains and cabinets and holding of 
hands, and clever tricks of release from apparent control, and rigid 
examinations of the body which still leave a loophole of conceal- 
ment; and ever the neglect of the observation that as such controls 
are made rigid, the phenomena are curtailed, while the amazing per- 
formances reported occur when such control is relaxed. Yet they 
are recorded with the implication that the conditions of one seance, 
which in results was substantially "negative", were observed at an- 
other when the law-defying marvels appeared. The whole atmos- 
phere of the conditions is repellent to the scientific mind, and the 
time and patience expended in this pursuit by men whose training 
and positions entitle them to protection from such service is by no 
means a credit to the intelligence of our supposedly enlightened day. 
All this may sound dogmatic, when reduced to such curtness of state- 
ment ; but the documentation is all too ample, and, to repeat, pathetic. 

VII 

Naturally the more responsible advocates of "Psychical Research" 
beliefs turn with greater confidence to the subjective aspect (in 
Richet's sense) substantially the revelation of unknown facts, either 
in a trance state or in a normal condition, by persons endowed with 
peculiar powers. That we are here dealing with a different prob- 
lem, I have made clear; though the possibilities of fraud and chance 
have to be carefully considered. In this phase, also new devices have 
been invented ; such as the "book-test" and the mental picture reading, 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 309 

which in one notable instance engages the attention of so dis- 
tinguished a scholar as Gilbert Murray. The argument is complex 
and may involve quasi-abnormal states on the one hand, and very 
different logical problems on the other. The "book-test" consists in 
having a medium indicate a page in a volume in a library which he 
or she is supposed not to know, and then find the reference pecu- 
liarly apt. It is a vague, inconclusive performance, and the possi- 
bility of estimating the operation of coincidence is practically impos- 
sible. Dr. Slosson had the happy idea of imitating the book-test 
experiment without the aid of a medium, and by chance alone; and 
found enough surprising pertinence in the passages thus selected to 
convince one inclined to believe in a supernormal thought transfer- 
ence of its reality; yet the resulting pertinence was pure chance. 
While as to the Gilbert Murray mind reading, one can only say 
that the clues may be lost in some cases, the experiment may be 
loosely conducted in others, and the open possibilities that remain 
await the ingenuity of further experimentation, though ever beset 
with the uncertainty of how far our similar training and interests 
and stock of knowledge may account for the measure of success in 
transferring a picture from one mind to another. Subtle residues 
remain ; but they do not alter the general verdict. If it is worth 
while to do so, they can be followed too a clearer issue. 

Perhaps I can suggest the order of incident and inquiry here per- 
tinent, if I cite from the work of Jung, who has made a shrewd 
and sympathetic study of the psychology of the medium from a legiti- 
mate psychological and psychopathic position, the fact that Nietzsche 
a distinctly psychopathic individual of rare endowment intro- 
duces in his Zarathustra (1883) a rhapsodical story of men landing 
on an island, shooting rabbits, and seeing men fly through the air, 
which actually came from the log of the ship Sphinx (1686) as 
recorded in Justinus Kerner's Blatter aus Prevorst which Nietzsche 
read between the ages of twelve and fifteen but had not seen since. 
Such subconscious memories for no one would suspect plagiarism 
indicate similar mechanisms at work in minds of this order. To 
Richet this would be a case of cryptomnesia paralleling his crypt- 
aesthesia. It has a naturalistic explanation. Nor is it without in- 
terest to note that when a classical scholar steeped in the allusions 
and technique of the literary record, "telepaths", he reveals or "gets" 
material in the dominant "medium" of his interests; when an archae- 



310 JOSEPH JASTROW 

ologist 5 has revelations, they are of archaeological content, which (as 
in dreams) his trained and informed mind could work up in con- 
scious thought near to their solutions and then complete in subcon- 
scious mood or by such aid. Revelations, like explanations, follow 
the apperceptive bend of the training of the personality involved. 

What we gain from this supplementary survey is a more vivid 
picture of the nature of the arguments which constitute the reper- 
tory of Psychical Research and follow from its animus. Perhaps 
the dominant lesson of the trails is the rationalisation motive, the 
desire under modern responsibility to infuse into ancient trends of 
belief a scientific warrant; yet the attempt is a strange often a 
pathetic perversion, an irreconcilability of holy oil and polluted 
water ; or more pertinently, as we read the fantastic explanations for 
phenomena that for the most part are fraudulently produced for 
the benefit or mystification of believers, we recognize that the voice 
is or resembles the authentic voice of a scientific Jacob, but the hands 
betray the crude touch of the primitive, occult Esau. Doubtless I 
shall be met with the rejoinder that I am proceeding eclectically and 
dogmatically according to my own skeptical bias, rather than than 
appraising the top-cream of the evidence which alone is convincing 
to the critical Psychic Researcher, who is as ready as I am to 
discard most of the bulky evidence as debris of primitive culture, 
and its survivals in the credulous and unschooled of our day; when 
it is not deliberate fraud which abounds and flourishes, as they 
equally admit, under the stimulus of the belief in the occult and 
the unusual, or the explanations are amenable to well known prin- 
ciples of normal and abnormal psychology. But the residue, they 
say, is genuine and cannot be discarded. Well! logic is against 
them though with no finality, but with an overwhelming probability. 
We are in face of what has been termed the great divergences, but 
not as in the usual sense, of schools and "isms" with much in com- 
mon in belief and animus, but with completely divergent views of 
the lessons of science and the laws of reason. 

If such admission of an open trail protects me from the one charge, 
it remains only to meet the charge of eclecticism. It is easily done. 
The argument as I have met it suggests the nursery refrain: 

The lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown ; 
The lion beat the Unicorn all around the town. 



B Bligh Bond: The Gate of Remembrance. 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 311 

Some gave him white bread and some gave him brown; 
Some gave him plum-cake and drove him out of town. 

The controversial differences remain; some award the plum-cake; I 
am in the driving group. But it is not a matter of disposition. 
More seriously I am asked why I refuse to accept the unicorn, when 
as is well known lions are real, and the encounter is so circum- 
stantially rendered. Moreover since the unicorn shows so many 
features of an authentic zoological horse, why this violent prejudice 
against the horn? In addition one may see the horn in rare speci- 
mens in museums, (though it happens to be that of a male narwhal, 
and is not a horn but a hypertrophic tooth) ; and cattle have horns, 
yet graze on the same plains as horses. The world is not wholly 
explored and what is there so antagonistic to our concepts of nature 
in the unicorn? Well, only this; that the zoological world is one 
world and the mythological another, though it is often difficult in 
the uncritical traveller's tales to separate fact from fable. The 
kind of interest and belief, the animus of inquiry and curiosity that 
leads to the embodiment of the unicorn in popular belief, is not that 
that leads to the orderly investigation of the fauna of the world. 
For heraldic purposes and for the stimulation of the imagination of 
children, the lion and the unicorn may stand in friendly or con- 
tentious juxtaposition; but for the serious guidance of the thoughts 
of men and the salvation of the logical integrity of our own and fu- 
ture generations, we must be critical. It is in loyalty to the "spirit" 
of science that I must deplore the "animus" of -Psychical Research. 

Finally, what is this animus that makes the great divergence des- 
pite the common concern with the phases of knowledge that we sys- 
tematize as psychology? It is the pursuit of the psychical for its 
personal significance; it is the attempt to prove that there are forces 
psychical in nature that transcend the ordinary operations recog- 
nised in the psychological realm; it is the belief in the powers of 
specially endowed individuals to exercise such "gifts" ; and all in 
the interest of a world quite otherwise regulated, motivated, directed 
than that in which we conduct our daily occupations and investiga- 
tions. Professor Dunlap makes the distinction very simple by sub- 
suming it under mysticism, which in the anthropological, folklore 
setting, would be magic or occultism or pseudo-science, and defining 
that as a belief in any "third order of knowledge", the two ac- 
credited orders being that of the senses in their observational func- 
tion, and of the logical, reasoning, deductive and inductive pro- 



312 JOSEPH JASTROW 

cesses. Viewed more clinically, with allowance for the many shades 
and grades of this "mystical" animus, we can detect it concretely in 
such an instance as dreams or premonitions or divinations. That 
dreams are a proper subject of psychological study is obvious; to 
"believe" in dreams as prophetic or veridical is to inject the Psychi- 
cal Research animus; and the same applies to the veridical, the vague 
"something in it" attitude of ordinary conversation which places the 
"something" in a system apart from the naturalistic one, which in- 
cludes the psychological interpretation of premonitions as a combina- 
tion of coincidence, community of mental habit, and allied procedures, 
and refers divination to subconsciously directed indications. The 
tendency to the "third order of knowledge" is largely a search for 
an aesthetic satisfaction ; to yield to it makes a more interesting, per- 
sonally significant world, breaks the routine of the hum-drum, and 
adds a charm as well as a dimension to existence. And its harm? 
If not carried too far and to the sacrifice of normal activities and 
pragmatically stable beliefs, doubtless in many instances, slight, 
though never negligible, and in the extreme disintegrating. With a 
world so thoroughly rationalised and humanitarianised as ours, the 
menace is much reduced. But science is too precious a social inheri- 
tance to be toyed with, and certainly to be challenged by the psycho- 
logical limitations of our rationality. 

University of Wisconsin, 
Madison, Wisconsin. 



January 5, 1927. 
Professor Carl Murchison, 
Clark University, 

Worcester, Mass. 
My dear Dr. Murchison: 

I appreciate your courtesy in sending me a copy of the letter of Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle. In reply I can only make plain that in addition to 
the very definite credulity to which I have referred, Sir Arthur is equally 
guilty of making statements which are not in accord with fact, or, to use 
his own expression, "entirely untrue". He indicates that of all the hundred 
photographs that were shown, there was only one which was questioned 
and he withdrew it at the suggestion of Dr. Prince. I am assuming that 
he is aware of Dr. Prince's article in the Scientific American for December, 
1925, ifrwhich, for purposes of illustration, only a few of these photographs 
are shown, but they are all questioned. In order that he should not mis- 
understand my position which is equally the position of Dr. Walter Prince 
who has examined more photographs of this kind than anyone else and 



THE ANIMUS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 313 

whose opinion is certainly not biased since he is inclined to accept other 
explanations of the supernatural, I wish to say everyone of the photographs 
offered by Sir Conan Doyle is spurious and has been produced by fraudu- 
lent means. I am quite content to leave this phase of the matter to Sir 
Arthur and Dr. Prince, as I am not concerned with it in my address except 
so far as it indicates to what extent credulity will go, and in using this 
expression, I am again in accord with Dr. Prince who uses it in the same 
application. 

With reference to the preposterous story about fairy photographs, there 
may have been some slight misrepresentation in the report which appeared 
in the newspaper, but it is not essential. Particular reference was to the 
effect that these so-called fairy photographs were obviously either real 
photographs which were set up in the grass, or pictures, and the mark of 
the shears in cutting them out appears definitely. Dr. Prince, who has 
examined them far more minutely than I have, agrees with this opinion. 
Of course, without having the actual photographs one cannot form a definite 
guess as to just how they have been manipulated, but to say that the pho- 
tographs have met all criticism and the honesty of the young girls has 
been vindicated, is completely misleading. The photographs have been re- 
jected as ridiculous by almost everyone who has examined them; and, as 
for the other question, the inference can be left to anyone's imagination. 

Let me repeat that all this is quite indifferent to me except that it is 
quite illustrative as to attitude of mind. There is one point worthy of 
notice, the notion that I or anyone else would be interested in attacking 
anyone or attempting even to persuade anyone who is inclined to take an 
opposite view. This introduction of any personal attitude is extremely 
unfortunate; and naturally anyone who appears publicly, will be judged 
by his public statements. I have no desire to modify in any way^the use 
of such a flagrant example of such extreme credulity as is shown in the 
writings and public addresses of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

It may be of interest to him to learn that I was present at one of his New 
York lectures as a representative of one of the large New York dailies. 
They had sent a regular representative to report the address and asked me 
as a special favor to report from the point of view of psychology. When 
I made my report verbally to the editor, he agreed there was nothing in 
the address worthy of attention and the reporter's report was all that was 
required. He added that he did not want to be held accountable for any 
further opinion of the author, who, in the literary field, commanded his 
respect, as he does mine. 

Very truly yours, 

(Signed) JOSEPH JASTROW. 



CHAPTER XIV 
A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS* 



BY HARRY HOUDINI 



I 

SLATE WRITING AND OTHER METHODS 

A REMARKABLY large number of methods have been used at one 
time and another by the numerous mediums of lesser repute than 
Slade who prospered on slate writing. Slade himself, like any skilled 
prestidigitator, had a variety of ways which he used to produce his 
effects. His usual method was very simple. A common kitchen 
table with the leaves extended was used, the Doctor being seated 
at the end and the client on the side against the leaf, at the Doctor's 
right. 

After the slate had been thoroughly washed on both sides he 
placed it under the leaf at the left of the sitter, holding it in posi- 
tion with the fingers of his right hand, with his thumb above the 
table. The sitter was requested to hold the left end of the slate 
with one hand and with the other to grasp the Doctor's left hand 
near the center of the table. In such a position it was impossible for 
the sitter to see the slate or the fingers of the medium. 

On the forefinger of his right hand Slade had a sort of thimble or 
ring to which was attached a bit of slate pencil. With this he wrote 
a short message on the bottom side of the slate, the scratching of the 
pencil being quite audible to the sitter. When this scratching ceased 
the Doctor would be seized with a series of nervous spasms during 
which the slate was snatched from the sitter's hand for the fraction 
of a second and, unknown to him, turned over, thus bringing the 
message to the top so that when a few minutes later it was shown 
the message appeared as though written between the slate and the 
table leaf. 

A second method, which produced longer messages, was the sub- 
stitution of slates. If this message was of a general character the 



Reprinted from A Magician Among the Spirits by Harry Houdini by 
permission of Harper & Brothers. 



316 HARRY HOUDINI 

slate was switched for one bearing a previously written message con- 
cealed about a nearby piece of furniture. If a special message was 
required it was written by an assistant listening in the next room. 
When the slate had been cleaned ready for the message the Doctor 
gave the cue and the assistant rapped on the door. The Doctor an- 
swered the knock in person, taking the slate with him, and while 
listening to some commonplace report the slates were exchanged. On 
resuming his seat the slate was placed under the table leaf as before. 
No sound of writing being heard, he would examine the top of the 
slate several times but of course find no writing. Finally, claiming 
that the influence did not seem powerful enough, he would lay the 
slate on the top of the table, message side down with a piece of pencil 
under it, and then take both the hands of the sitter in his. Soon a 
sound of writing would be heard and on examination the message 
would be found. It was possible for Slade to produce the sound of 
writing while his hands were holding those of his client by slipping a 
piece of pencil through threads on the side of his knee and rubbing it 
against another piece held to the table leg by a wooden clip. 

One of the most common methods of slate writing is known as 
the "flap slate." The message is written beforehand and concealed 
with a flap of silicated gauze, or thin slate, which fits closely within 
the slate frame. One side of this flap is covered with cloth to match 
that used on the top of the table and when it is dropped is unnoticed. 
A better way is to cover the back of the flap with newspaper and by 
dropping it on a newspaper it becomes invisible. 

There is an ingenious double form of this flap slate with which it 
is possible to make a message appear on both inside surfaces of a 
pair of locked slates without having them leave the sight of the sitter 
for an instant. The two slates are hinged together like the old- 
fashioned school slates but with the hinges on the outside of the slates. 
The slabs of slate are very thin and the ends of the frames bevel 
toward them slightly. One end of each frame is so made that by 
pressing on one of the hinge screws the frame end is released and can 
be drawn out about a quarter of an inch. A very thin slab of slate 
called the "flap is arranged to fit snugly over the real slate when the 
frame ends are in place but drops out as soon as they are released and 
drawn out. In working these slates the medium writes a message on 
the inside of one of them, say the left and also on one side of the flap. 
The end of the slate with the message is then drawn out and the flap 
inserted, message side down, and the frame fastened back in place. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 



317 



A secret mark on the outside of the frame shows which slate is writ- 
ten upon. The slates can then be shown and will appear clean on all 
four sides, and it is possible to either seal or lock them without inter- 
fering with the success of the demonstration. They are then placed 
on the table with the fake ends nearest the medium and while he leans 
on their ends with half-folded arms, engaging the sitter in conversa- 
tion, he at the same time with the ringers of his concealed hand pulls 
out the frame ends, allowing the flap to fall from one slate to the 
other, and then secures it in place by putting the ends back. Of 
course when the slates are opened a closely written message is 
found on both. 

Another sort of double slate intended for producing a similar effect 
in dark seances or cabinet work also has a loose end which instead of 
moving a quarter of an inch draws out to any length, bringing the 
slab with it. After the lights are out or the cabinet closed it is an 
easy matter to draw out the slab and write a message on it. 




warm'G ON HONEST SLATES BY 

MEANS OF WEDGE AND WIRE. 

Writing is sometimes produced between two perfectly honest slates 
which have been fastened together at the corners by inserting a wedge 
of hard wood between the frames, thus separating them enough to 
slip between them a piece of wire with a bait of slate pencil fastened 



318 HARRY HOUDINI 

to its tip. By this means a message can be produced at a dark seance 
in a few minutes without breaking the seals. 

There is a form of slate where the slab is invisibly hinged on the 
side so that it opens like a door and is held shut by a secret catch. This 
slate can be used in a dark seance or under the table at a light one. 
It can also be used on a cloth-top table with an invisible trap. The 
trap and the hinged slate drop down together and the medium is able 
to write on the slate by reaching under the table. 

Still another scheme used with a pair of hinged slates is to have 
a hole through both frames at one end and locking them with a pad- 
lock. In working this the pins are pushed out of the hinges and the 
frames, moving easily on the shackle of the padlock, permit the 
medium to write on the inside of the slates without difficulty, after- 
wards fastening the slates together again by simply replacing the pins 
in the hinges. 

A method of concealing an extra slate is to have it a trifle smaller 
than the rest and then hidden in some convenient place, say the seat 
of a chair. A large slate is first examined and laid on the chair. 
Later it is picked up with the extra one under it. Sometimes the 
extra one is hidden under the edge of a rug on the floor and worked 
in the same way. At other times it is hidden on the medium's body 
and slipped under a large slate when the medium stands with his right 
side on a line with the sitter's vision. 

An entirely different method is employed to some extent by me- 
diums who are very rapid and interesting talkers. Throughout the 
seance the medium walks nervously about the room, keeping up a 
continual flow of conversation. He passes two slates to the sit- 
ters for examination. A third, the same size, with a previously 
written message on one side, being concealed in a large pocket 
inside the breast of his coat. While the slates are being examined he 
walks about the room sometimes behind and sometimes in front of the 
sitter, tapping him on the shoulder to emphasize his remarks. As soon 
as the slates are examined he takes them and, passing behind the sitter, 
places them on his head and asks him to hold them there and at the 
same time continuing his walk and talk. Of course when the slates 
are examined there is a message on the inside of one of them. When 
the medium steps behind the sitter with the slates in his hand he 
quickly changes the slate with a message which he has hidden for one 
of the blank ones. This is no more bold or difficult than many me- 
diumistic tricks but it requires a particularly fluent conversationalist 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 319 

to successfully produce the needed amount of misdirection when the 
slates are switched. Women mediums effect a similar exchange some- 
times by the aid of a special pocket in the dress. 

A very effective method of getting a direct answer to a question on 
the inside of a sealed double slate is as follows. The slates are tho- 
roughly cleansed by the sitter, who writes a question on a slip of 
paper, folds it and places it between the slates, with a bit of pencil. 
The medium keeps at a distance during the writing and cannot see 
what has been written. The slates are then sealed with strips of paper 
and placed on the table and the sitter holds both hands of the medium. 
After a time, as no sound of writing is heard, the medium shows 
some concern as to the possibility of failure and suggests that the sit- 
ter hold the slates at the top of his own head. Still there is no sound 
and the slates are returned to the table, where they remain for some 
time without any sign of writing. The medium becomes very much 
worried and suggests that the slates be placed on the sitter's head 
again, remarking that if no sound is heard he will be obliged to post- 
pone that test till a future sitting. This time the writing is heard 
almost as soon as the slates touch the head and when it ceases and the 
slates are unsealed a complete answer is found written on the inner 
surface of one or both slates. 

This seeming marvel is produced in the following simple manner. 
The medium's assistant steals into the room with a duplicate pair of 
sealed slates and stands behind the sitter. In the act of placing the 
slates on the head a switch is made, and the sitter holds the duplicates 
while the originals are taken into an adjoining room by the assistant. 
He lifts the seals with a hot table knife and after reading the question 
he writes an appropriate answer, reseals the slates and returns to his 
position behind the sitter. Another exchange is made when the slates 
are placed on the sitter's head the second time. The sound of writing 
is made by the medium under the table with a piece of slate pencil and 
a bit of slate, but it is so faint that the sitter cannot locate it. 

In Bohemia, Province of Prague, I ran across a medium who was 
especially good in slate writing. At first I could not "get" his work. 
When I was playing in Berlin, at the Wintergarten, he came in one 
night and wanted to give a performance to the directors. I was guest 
but went prepared for him. His work was so designed that he walked 
behind us and in so doing he baffled me. I asked for a private sitting 
and he readily consented. 

When he did the slate writing at this sitting I felt someone's pres- 



320 HARRY HOUDINI 

ence, and, sure enough, when he took the slates away there was an 
almost imperceptible hesitation. In this fraction of a second the 
slates were switched through a trap in the panel behind me. I had 
a mirror on a rubber elastic fastened to my vest and as I took my seat 
I pulled the elastic so I could sit on it. I managed ta secure this 
mirror and keep it palmed in my hand, and with it saw the panel 
slide open, the arm extended with the duplicate slates, and the ex- 
change made. 

S. S. Baldwin, an acknowledged expert in Spiritualistic and Tele- 
pathic tomfoolery, was bamboozled by a Dr. Fair, according to his 
own story which he told to me in December, 1920. He received 
a message on a slate held by himself under a table, and afterwards, 
at the suggestion of the Doctor, made a thorough examination of the 
table, the room, and everything in sight, but failed to discover a con- 
cealed door in the wainscot of the wall through which a man in black 
garments could find his way to space under a sofa and thence to the 
table, which was a rather large one, do the Spirit writing and then 
make his exit while Mr. Baldwin was fully occupied holding the slate 
under the table with his eyes fixed on space above it. 

One of the very best mediumistic tricks, and one that has made 
the reputation of more than one well-known medium, is done with 
a number of small slates and one large one. The size of the slates 
is immaterial but the large one should be three or four inches larger 
each way than the others. The manner of presentation differs some- 
what with different performers but in general is as follows. 

When the sitters arrive the slates are piled near one corner of the 
table, the larger one at the bottom and eight or nine smaller ones on 
top of it. The medium stands at the end of the table nearest the 
slates and after a few casual remarks he picks up the top slate with his 
left hand, changes it to his right and passes it to the sitter to be ex- 
amined and cleaned if desired. When he is quite satisfied the me- 
dium takes it back, glances at both sides, and then places it on the 
table directly in front of the sitter. This is repeated with the re- 
maining small slates, which are not stacked up evenly but left in a 
haphazard pile. While the last small slate is being placed on the 
pile with the medium 's right hand he picks up the large slate with his 
left and rests it on top of the others, at the same time passing the 
sitter a pencil and asking him to write a few lines on it requesting the 
Spirits to favor him with a message and to sign his name to it. He 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 321 

is at liberty to examine this slate also and to write his message on 
either side. 

The large slate is then placed at the right of the sitter and he is 
asked to place his right hand on it. The small slates are then evened 
up by the medium, secured by a heavy rubber band and then placed 
in the center of the table. The medium then takes a seat at the 
table opposite the sitter and they clasp hands at the sides of the slates. 
After a sufficient pause the slates are unbound by the sitter and on 
a slate near the center of the stack a message is found written in chalk 
or slate pencil and signed by a departed friend. 

The secret of this startling effect is extremely simple. Concealed 
beneath the big slate at the beginning of the seance is a smaller slate 
with the message already written on it. This is picked up with the 
larger one when the latter is placed on the stack for the sitter to 
write on it and dropped on the others, written side down. The extra 
slate is never noticed as the pile has not been counted and the business 
of passing the slate pencil occupies the sitter's attention so that he 
does not realize that the large slate rests on the small ones before 
he examines it. 

The medium then takes about half the small slates, evens them up 
and lays them to one side and repeats with the remaining ones, lay- 
ing them evenly on the others. This is a perfectly natural move as 
the whole stack makes more than a handful and by means of it the 
slate with the message is placed in the middle of the stack. The stack 
is then set on end, the rubber band placed around it, and it is then 
ready to be placed in the middle of the table for conclusion of the 
seance. 

Two methods of writing between locked or sealed double slates 
when only one or two words were needed puzzled the investigators 
for a long time. The first was worked with a strong magnet. The 
bit of slate pencil which was put between the slates was specially pre- 
pared with either powdered soapstone mixed with iron filings, water, 
and glue, or a small piece of iron was used covered with a paste of 
soapstone, water, and mucilage. By holding the magnet under the 
slates and tracing the words backwards the prepared pencils would 
follow the magnet and write the words. The other method was 
worked with an electro magnet set m the table, the necessary wires 
running down one leg and making contact with a copper plate in the 
floor under the rug by means of a sharp metal point on the end of 
the leg. 



322 HARRY HOUDINI 

Since the introduction of "raps"* by the Fox Sisters various meth- 
ods have been devised for producing them. One of the simplest ex- 
pedients is for the medium to slightly moisten the fingers and slide 
them very gently on the top of the table. A little experimenting soon 
shows the amount of pressure necessary to product the desired amount 
of sound and of course the medium is cautious to let the fingers move 
only the desired distance and that too when no one is looking. 

Another simple method is to place the thumbs close together in 
such a manner that the nail of one overlaps the other a trifle. Then 
while the thumbs are pressed hard on the table if one nail is slipped 
up or down distinct raps are produced which seem to come from the 
top of the table. 

Some mediums produce raps by slipping a knee up and down against 
a table leg. Others have been known to fasten blocks of wood to 
the knee under the skirt and rap on the table leg with a sidewise 
motion of the knee. Still others strike the table leg with the heel of 
the shoe or press the side of the heel against the table leg and by 
moving the heel up and down the friction of the leather against the 
wood produces raps. 

Many mediums will not depend on these methods but use more 
complicated ones which produce the raps by means of mechanical de- 
vices which they conceal about their person. One of these consists of 
a small hollow metal tube in which a long, heavy needle is arranged 
to move up and down like a piston, and attached to it to operate it a 
stout black thread. The tube is fastened to the inner side of a trouser 
leg. The free end of the thread is brought out through a seam and 
an inconspicuous little hook attached. After being seated at the seance 
table the medium attaches the little hook to the opposite trouser leg 
and draws on it until the needle point comes through the cloth. He 
then watches an opportunity to press on to the point of the needle 
a cork to which has been attached a piece of lead. This accomplished, 
all he has to do is to place the knee in the proper relation to the table 
and by moving the other back and forth the piston is made to work 
up and down, causing the leaded cork to rap out all sorts of messages. 

Another ingenious mechanical contrivance is built into the heel 
of the medium's shoe and operated electrically by running a wire 



*In regard to involuntary and subconscious table rapping and tapping: 
Some people rap and tip tables in all seances of table tipping and rapping. I 
have attended seances when I have caught some one obligingly cheating to re- 
lieve the monotony and the imposition once started is forced to be kept up. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 



323 



PISTON 



PlSTOrf 




TUBE AND PI8TOK ABaANOEMEHT FOB 
MAKING BAPS. 

from it up through the sole of the shoe and passing it between the 
back of the shoe and the foot and so on up the leg to batteries con- 
cealed in a pocket. By placing this heel against a table leg the raps 
can be made to sound as though coming from the middle of the table 
and with a proper amount of "suggest ion " the sitters can be made 
to believe that the mysterious taps are produced in turn under each 
pair of hands on the table. 



4V//?- TO PUSH &UTTOH 




RAPPING MECHANISM IK HEEL OF 
~ 1 SHOE. 



Table levitating is easily accomplished in the dark, through the aid 
of a confederate, by several different methods. If the medium and 
his assistant are seated opposite, by raising their knees at a signal they 



324 HARRY HOUDINI 

can lift the table from the floor without difficulty. By slightly rock- 
ing or tipping the table the medium and assistant can simultaneously 
slip a foot under table legs diagonally opposite, lift the table and keep 
it balanced by the pressure of the hands on its top. These and many 
similar methods are perfectly practical in dark seances but for mani- 
festations where there is any danger of the sitters being able to see 
mechanical contrivances are resorted to. The oldest form is simply 
a light, though powerfully strong, length of blue steel riveted to a 
stout leather wrist strap. When not in use the whole thing is con- 
cealed in the medium's sleeve. Sometimes both the medium and the 
assistant are thus equipped. 

This has been somewhat superseded by a chamois-covered flat steel 
hook concealed under the vest and riveted to a tight-fitting leather 
belt encircling the medium's body. With this hook under the table 
edge great power can be exerted upon the table with very little strain 
upon the operator. The lifting strength of a human hair is not 
generally known, yet by means of one freshly taken from the head, 
long enough to span a small light table, the table can be lifted. One 
of the more modern contrivances is a steel belt which the operator 
wears and to the front of which is attached a short metal arm which 
can be engaged under the table top in such a way that the operator 
can take his hands off the table and still support it in the air. When 
releasing the table the metal arm is slipped back and the steel belt 
shifted to another position on the body, the medium's coat concealing 
both. 

Just as advances are made in other lines of work, so too mediums 
advance in their methods of deceiving their subjects. Few would re- 
sort to the old-time methods of releasing a foot from under the foot 
of an investigator. They have devised a new and baffling method. 
The medium's shoes are especially made for her in such a way that by 
a certain pressure on the sole it is possible to withdraw the greater 
portion of the shoe with the foot from a false front. This front 
is made of metal and padded. When the medium asks the committee 
to place their feet on hers she makes sure that they do not overreach 
the portion she can withdraw from. In the full glare of the light 
the investigator thinks he feels the medium's foot securely held under 
his own and as he cannot see under the table the medium has the 
full use of her foot to produce manifestations. 

I once gave a seance while I was touring in England. It was a dark 
seance and just at the psychological moment a Spirit came through 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 325 

the window and walked around on the wall and ceiling of the room 
and then out of another window. The explanation is simple. On 
the bill with me were two acrobats, hand to hand balancers. One 
took off his shoes and stockings and the other sneaked up to him. 
He pulled down the window and then did a hand-to-hand balance 
with his partner and walked around the room. He then went back 
to his seat, put on his shoes, and looked as innocent and meek as 
possible under the circumstances when the lights were turned on. 
I told every one present that it was only a trick but as usual they in- 
sisted that I was a medium. 

A rope trick which always causes astonishment and helps to create 
a belief in supernatural aid is done by a woman medium who enters 
a cabinet with a rope bound around her neck. The loose ends of the 
rope are forced through opposite sides of the cabinet and held tightly 
by two members of the committee. Nevertheless the manifestations 
take place just the same and when the cabinet is opened afterwards 
the medium is found bound just as she was before the seance. As a 
matter of fact when the curtains have been closed and the committee 
have a grip on the ends of the rope the medium cuts the specially tied 
loop around her neck. When she is ready to come out she simply 
ties another loop, using a duplicate piece of rope which she had con- 
cealed on her person. When the committee release the ends of the 
rope she slips the mutilated piece into her bloomers and appears with 
the duplicate, which looks like the original one. 

There are various methods of producing Spirit photographs. One 
is to have a table prepared so that a developing pan is placed where 
an X-ray penetrates to the negative. This produces a "Spirit light." 
Another is to fix the side of the plate with some luminous substance, 
shape, or flash, and it is astonishing what these things look like. You 
get forms and frequently recognize faces in the splotches. Father de 
Heredia has palmed a figure in his hand and as the investigator signed 
the negative remarked: "I might as well sign it myself." In so do- 
ing he rested the left hand over the plate while signing with his right 
and the phosphorus figure in his hand was photographed on the neg- 
ative. A simple method is to have something concealed in the hand 
and hold it over the lens instead of a cap, and still another is to get 
the camera out of focus and snap it secretly, then when the regular 
exposure is made there is an additional hazy something on the plate. 

One of the most startling swindles I ever heard of a medium work- 
ing was called "finger-printing a Spirit." In this test the medium 



326 HARRY HOUDINI 

shows the sitter finger prints of the departed soul. I hesitated at first 
about including this fake, fearing to add to the stock of unscrupulous 
mediums but I finally concluded that the public should know about 
it. The scheme was first discovered by a sculptor who dabbled some 
in Spiritualism. One day, several years ago, a workman fell from 
the top of the building, in which this man had his studio, and was 
killed. The body was carried into the studio and while alone with 
it the sculptor conceived the idea of fooling some guests who were to 
hold a seance that night. He hurriedly made a plaster of Paris 
mould of the dead man's fingers and later filled it with a rubber-like 
substance used in his work. When this had hardened and the plaster 
had been removed it resembled, even to the most minute detail, the 
dead hand. 

During the seance that night he produced finger prints with it on 
a trumpet which he had lampblacked and upon investigation it was 
found that these finger prints corresponded exactly with those of the 
man in the morgue. No one was able to explain the mystery and he 
kept the secret for some time but later another medium learned it 
and obtained a position in an undertaking establishment where he 
found an opportunity after a while to secure the finger prints of 
several of the dead who belonged to the wealthy class. In due time 
he arranged seances with the relatives and convinced them of his 
genuineness. There are two cases on record where fortunes were at 
stake because of this sort of fraud. In one case five hundred thousand 
dollars changed hands upon the recognition of the finger prints of a 
man who had died two years before. His hand had been maimed in 
an accident and all the scars showed in the impression on the Spirit 
slate. Fortunately a confession was wrung from the medium and the 
money went to the rightful heirs. 

A "manifestation" which seems mysterious but which is in reality 
ridiculously simple is worked as follows. A glass is filled with water 
and placed on the table in a cabinet. Ribbons or bands of tape are 
then drawn over it at right angles and the ends fastened to the table 
with nails. Thus secured the glass cannot be lifted and the top is 
entirely covered except some small openings. The medium is then 
locked into the cabinet for a few minutes, during which he keeps up a 
continuing clapping of his hands, but when the cabinet is unlocked the 
glass is empty of water and the general impression is that the Spirits 
drained it. As a matter of fact the medium had worked his hands up 
near his face and shifted from slapping his hands to slapping his face 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 327 

with one hand. This left a hand free and with it he had no difficulty 
in producing a straw from his pocket and sucking the water from the 
glass. 

Of course these examples are only a few of the many means em- 
ployed by mediums to produce their "manifestations" and take ad- 
vantage of the credulity of the average sitter, but they are enough 
to show the reader the sort of methods practiced and the lengths to 
which they will go in their deceptions. 

II 
SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY 

With what is perhaps pardonable pride we point to the genius of 
American enterprise in scientific advancement but it is with decided 
chagrin that I repeat that, as modern Spiritualism was born in 
America, so also have been most of the phenomena that under the 
mask of Spiritualism have unbalanced so many fine intellects the 
world over. Spirit photography, the most prominent of mediumistic 
phenomena, had its beginning in Boston, "Hub" of intellectual de- 
velopment, its coming being announced by Dr. Gardner, a devout 
Spiritualist, who discovered a photographer that "in taking a photo- 
graph of himself, obtained on the same plate a likeness of a cousin dead 
some twelve years before." 

This was in 1862, but a little more than a decade after the original 
demonstration of so-called Spirit power at Hydesville. Fortunately 
for the success of the new art the photographer selected by the in- 
habitants of "Summerland"* to use for the demonstration of the new 
phenomena was a medium and of all the hosts in heaven the spirit 
chosen to be photographed was (singular coincidence) a cousin of his 
who had passed the border some years previous. 

No sooner had the discovery been announced than spiritual en- 
thusiasts in large numbers began flocking to the studio of the medium, 
Mr. William H. Mumler, and this kept up until evil spirits (?) be- 
gan to create an atmosphere of doubt and skepticism, whereupon he 
abruptly took himself and his new enterprise to New York City, a 
precipitous plunge presumably prompted by his Spiritual guides. 

The change proved to be of great financial benefit to Mumler un- 
til the ire of the evil Spirits was once more aroused and he was ar- 
rested on a charge of fraudulent transactions. A most interesting and 

*Coined by Andrew Jackson Davis, in 1845, and meaning the hereafter. 
Now used frequently by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 



328 HARRY HOUDINI 

sensational trial followed with many noted people appearing as wit- 
nesses, among them being that prince of showmen, Phineas Taylor 
Barnum, who testified for the prosecution, and Judge John W. Ed- 
monds, of the Supreme Court Bench, for the defence. 

Mr. Barnum testified to having spent much time and study in the 
detection of humbugs and had recently written a book called "The 
Humbugs of the World." He knew Mumler only through reputa- 
tion but had had some correspondence with him in regard to his pic- 
tures, wishing to learn his process and expose it in his book, and 
some pictures which Mumler sent him Barnum paid ten dollars apiece 
for and put in his museum labelled as " Spiritualistic Humbugs." 

Barnum's testimony was attacked by Mumler's lawyer who char- 
acterized it as being a 'Very pretty illustration of humbug" and added 
that even if it were true Barnum violated the "great precept relating 
to honor among thieves," but I want to go on record as believing that 
Mr. Barnum told the truth in the Mumler case. 

Judge Edmonds declared on the stand that he had seen Spirits al- 
though many Spiritualists could not and recalled an instance when 
he was on the bench trying a case in which the payment of an accident 
insurance policy was the issue. He told the court that the whole as- 
pect of the case was changed after he saw the spirit of the suicide and 
several questions which this Spirit had suggested were put to the wit- 
ness, the decision being reversed on the testimony thus brought out. 
He also testified to his belief that Mumler's pictures were genuine 
photographs of Spirits. 

During the trial many methods* of producing Spirit "extras" were 
shown in court by expert photographers and the possibilities of the 
effect being produced by natural means proven. The investigators, 
however, did not have their case in good shape. There were strong 
grounds for suspicion but they were unable to present positive proof 
and though the court was morally convinced that fraudulent methods 
had been practiced sufficient evidence to convict Mumler was lacking. 
Although acquitted, it is significant that Mumler refused an offer 
of five hundred dollars to reproduce his pictures in another studio 
under test conditions and while free to resume his business so far 



*In those days there were no dry plates and with the old "wet" plates 
it was quite possible to expose a plate, develop it, and then prepare it again 
and expose it the second time. When this was done both pictures appeared 
in the print. Such a plate could be used under the strictest test conditions 
without detection. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 329 

as the court was concerned, with a full harvest of dupes waiting to be 
fleeced, he was nevertheless soon lost to view and seems to have 
vanished entirely after the publication of his book in 1875. 

Spiritualistic mediumship is not immune to the flattery of imitation 
for even a casual examination of Spiritualistic history and develop- 
ment shows that just as soon as a medium forms a new alliance with 
the psychic power dispenser and produces phenomena unknown be- 
fore, other mediums immediately begin to produce it also and the new 
manifestation soon becomes epidemic. It was so with Spirit photo- 
graphy. No one had thought of such a possibility before Mumler in- 
vented the mystery but talented mediums everywhere when they heard 
of his pictures began to produce them also. Stories of his success 
crossed the sea and Europe discovered equal talent there. 

In the summer of 1874 a Parisian photographer by the name of 
Buguet went over to London and attracted considerable attention with 
his Spirit pictures. They were of much higher artistic quality than 
any preceding ones and Podmore in his "Modern Spiritualism" tells 
us that : 

"The Spirit faces were in most cases clearly defined, and were, in 
fact, frequently recognized by the sitters, and even W. H. Harrison 
failed to detect any trickery in the operation." 

After a short stay during which his demonstrations completely satis- 
fied such men as Rev. Stainton Moses, who was liberal with his en- 
dorsements, Buguet returned to Paris, where the next year he was 
placed under arrest "charged with the fraudulent manufacture of 
Spirit photographs." Unlike Mumler, his conscience did not prove 
court-proof, or perhaps the evidence against him was such that a 
friendly Spirit advised confession, at any rate he told the court that 
all of his Spirit photographs were the result of double exposure. On 
the strength of this confession Buguet was convicted and sentenced to 
one year of imprisonment and a fine of five hundred francs. A like 
sentence was given to M. Leymaire, Editor of the Revue Spirits, who 
admitted suggesting to Buguet that he should enter the field of Spirit 
photography. 

The police seized all the paraphernalia in the studio of Buguet and 
took it to court. Amongst it was a lay figure and a large stock 
of heads. These with dolls and assistants at the studio took turns as 
inspirations for Spirit extras. But the real interest of the trial was 
not these revelations, Podmore tells us, for after all Buguet did little 
to improve on the methods inaugurated by his predecessors. It is the 



330 HARRY HOUDINI 

effect produced on his dupes by Buguet's confession, and the display 
of his trick apparatus, which is really worthy of attention. Witness af- 
ter witness journalist, photographic expert, musician, merchant, man 
of letters, optician, ex-professor of history, Colonel of Artillery, etc., 
etc. came forward to testify on behalf of the accused. Some had 
watched the process throughout, and were satisfied that trickery had 
not been practiced. Many had obtained on the plate unmistakable 
portraits of those dear to them, and found it impossible to relinquish 
their faith. One after another these witnesses were confronted with 
Buguet, and heard him explain how the trick had been done. One 
after another they left the witness-box, protesting that they could not 
doubt the evidence of their own eyes. Here, chosen almost at random 
from many similar accounts, is the testimony of M. Dessenon, pic- 
ture-seller, aged fifty-five. After describing how he had obtained in 
the first instance various figures which he could not recognize, he 
continues : 

" 'The portrait of my wife, which I had especially asked for, is 
so like her that when I showed it to one of my relatives he exclaimed, 
"It's my cousin 1" 

"The Court: Was that chance, Buguet?' 

"Buguet: 'Yes, pure chance. I had no photograph of Mme. 
Dessenon/ 

"The Witness: 'My children, like myself, thought the likeness 
perfect. When I showed them the picture they cried, "It's mama." 
A very fortunate chance!. . . I am convinced it was my wife/, 

"The Court: 'You see this doll and all the rest of the things?' 

"The Witness: 'There is nothing there in the least like the pho- 
tograph which I obtained/ " 

Incidentally there were two or three curious bits of evidence on the 
value of recognition as a test. A police officer stated that Buguet 
showed him a portrait which had done duty as the sister of one sitter, 
the mother of a second, and the friend of a third. Again, it came 
out in the evidence that a very clearly defined head (reproduced as 
an illustration to Stain ton Moses' articles in Human Nature) which 
had been claimed by M. Leymaire as the portrait of his almost life 
long friend, M. Poiret, was recognized by another witness as an ex- 
cellent likeness of his father-in-law, still living at Breux, and much 
annoyed at his premature introduction to the Spirit world. 

From Mumler's first pictures to the present day, Spirit photography 
has played a large part in the field of Spiritualistic devotion, and in- 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 331 

numerable mediums have discovered that they possessed the same 
phenomenal power for producing the coveted likeness in the form 
of "extras" on the sensitized plate. The art has now advanced to 
such a stage that it is no longer necessary for one to sit but all that is 
needed is a relic of the departed one, something which either belonged 
or was of especial interest, to the person. This relic is photographed 
and when the plate is developed there appears beside it as an "extra" 
the face of the departed ; that is, I should say, if your imagination is 
strong enough to see a resemblance to the person supposed to be 
represented. 

Nor is a camera necessary in these days, according to Spiritualists. 
In fact, I am told that it is not necessary to even open a box of plates, 
but that they can be "magnetized" just as they come from the maker 
provided the box is in the possession of the medium a few days in ad- 
vance of the sitting. This single condition fulfilled and the demon- 
stration will follow if the sitters, including the nearest relative, pile 
their hands on top of the medium 's. Then to create a solemn at- 
mosphere the sitters are usually asked to join in some form of religious 
devotion such as singing "Nearer, My God, to Thee," or a fervent 
prayer. 

This is the type of performance conducted by what is known as the 
"Crewe Photographers" and supported and defended by the present 
day leaders in Spiritualism. This Crewe combination of photograph- 
ers is under the management of professional Spiritualists and is an or- 
ganized effort to promulgate this particular phase of Spiritualistic 
phenomena. The group consists of Mr. William Hope and Mrs. 
Buxton, Crewe; Mrs. Deane of London; and Mr. Vearncombe 
of Bridgewater. 

My friend, Harry Price, attended a sitting given by Hope and 
tells of the religious exercises as follows: 

"Mrs. Buxton sang several verses of 'Nearer, My God, to Thee/ 
after which Mr. Hope made a long impromptu prayer in which he 
thanked God for all our many mercies, and hoped He would continue 
His blessings at the present moment. He also craved blessings on 
our fellow creatures and friends on the other side and asked assistance 
in the attempt to link up with them, etc. Then Mrs. Buxton sang 
another hymn, after which Mr. Hope picked up the package of dry 
plates, put them between the hands of Mrs. Buxton, placed her hands 
on his, and others in the party piled their hands on top. Then we had 



332 HARRY HOUDINI 

another impromptu prayer by Mrs. Buxton. Then the Lord's 
Prayer was sung, and a short hymn concluded the service." 

Can one imagine a sacrilege more revolting than singing hymns, 
saying prayers, and calling on the Almighty for help in such fraud- 
ulent work? 

The combination evaded detection and were doing a most success- 
ful business when in the spring of 1921, Mr. Edward Bush, of the 
Society of Psychical Research, laid a snare into which Hope walked 
with his eyes wide open. Mr. Bush wrote for an appointment under 
the assumed name of "D. Wood," enclosing a photograph of a son- 
in-law who was alive. On the back of the photograph was written : 

"Tell Dad, if anything happens to me, I will try and let him have 
a Spirit Photo. Tell him to shout up to let me know where he goes to. 

"JACK ACKROYD." 

Hope arranged a time for a sitting but returned the photo, saying 
he regretted that it had been sent as it subjected him to suspicion. 
When the time for the sitting arrived Hope went under control and 
Mr. Bush manipulated the plates as he directed but no "extras'* ap- 
peared. On the next day, however, when the plate was developed 
after another sitting, there was an "extra" which proved to be a like- 
ness of the son-in-law. Mr. Bush published the details of this ex- 
posure in a pamphlet and the London Truth said editorially: 

"But not only have William Hope and his sister medium, Mrs. 
Buxton, cause to kick themselves at Mr. Bush's exposure, Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle,* Lady Glenconner, the Rev. Walter Wynn, and many 
other leading lights of the movement have brought these products of 
faith and hope forward as conclusive proof of the continuation of 
existence and the possibility of communication with the next world." 

Later in the same year, Mr. C. R. Mitchell, a former leader of 
the Hackney Spiritualistic Society and well known in mediumistic 
circles in London, was selected to "undertake certain tests of a scien- 



*In speaking of Spirit photography, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle usually brings 
up as proof positive, that his fairy photographs are genuine. According to 
the London Star, December 20, 1921, there were many interesting develop- 
ments regarding these: 

"Messrs. Price and Sons, the well known firm of candle makers, inform us 
that the fairies in this photograph are an exact reproduction of a famous 
poster they have used for years, to advertise their night lights. 

" 'I admit on these fairies there are wings, whereas our fairies have no 
wings/ said a representative of the firm to a Star reporter, 'but, with this 
exception, the figures correspond line for line with our own drawing.' " 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 333 

tific nature for the purpose of ascertaining the value of these Spirit 
phenomena." Mr. Mitchell was a photographer and wished to use 
his own plates in the experiment but Mrs. Deane, who was to con- 
duct it, refused to let him unless he first left them with her for a few 
days to be magnetized. He objected to this and it was finally agreed 
that he could use his own plates provided he would magnetize them 
himself but the results were unsatisfactory. He then purchased 
from Mrs. Deane a package of fresh plates, which, it was claimed, 
had not been opened since it left the manufacturer. The likeness of 
a soldier appeared on one of these which Mr. Mitchell developed him- 
self and he concluded that not only had the plates been "magnetized" 
but that they had been exposed in a camera as well. 

The issue of Truth for June 28th, 1922, gives an account of the 
experience of an ex-Indian missionary, who, with three others, visited 
the Crewe photographers and sat for Spirit pictures. Four exposures 
were made and Spirit "extras" appeared on two of the plates but the 
men could not remember whether the plates had at any time been be- 
yond their control so the missionary arranged for another sitting 
taking the precaution to have his plates marked on the corner with 
a glazier's diamond. At this second sitting one Spirit extra was pro- 
duced but there was no diamond mark on the plate, positive proof that 
an exchange had been effected. 

During 1922 the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle took up 
the investigation of Spirit photography first giving its attention to 
Mr. Vearncombe who produced Spirit extras in connection with some 
object once in possession of the deceased. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
put this committee in touch with the Honorary Secretary of the 
Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures, Mr. Barlow, and at 
the latter's suggestion sent him an unopened package of plates for 
Mr. Vearncombe. Although Barlow objected, "for Vearncombe's 
satisfaction, though not essential," the package was enclosed in a lead 
case. Also at Barlow's suggestion a fee accompanied the package. 
After a month of waiting the committee received a photograph of the 
package and on the photograph was a spirit message which read: 
"Barred your side." 

In order to remove the barrier a fresh package of plates was for- 
warded to Vearncombe, this time in an ordinary wrapper. Some 
months later, after the plates had been Spiritually treated by Vearn- 
combe, they were returned to the committee. When developed "psy- 
chic extras" were found on two plates. There was evidence that the 



334 HARRY HOUDINI 

package had been tampered with and the same spirit had been seen 
on other photographs. 

The committee sent Vearncombe a package of plates under an as- 
sumed name but received word from him that it was not necessary 
to send plates. That small objects which had belonged to the deceased 
would do and that if the proper fee were enclosed photographic prints 
showing the "psychic extras" obtained would be supplied. As a full 
compliance with this suggestion would have been useless as a test, a 
box of plates, a small object supposed to have belonged to the deceased, 
and the fee were sent. 

Again Vearncombe protested that he did not treat unopened boxes 
of plates owing to many failures but offered to expose plates on the 
object which had been supplied. He was informed that such ex- 
posure would be unsatisfactory whereupon rather than disappoint his 
correspondent, he consented and forwarded the package with the 
statement that he had treated the plates as desired and hoped for 
success. On development a "psychic image" appeared on one of the 
plates but the committee found that the wrappers of the package had 
been unsealed and the plates disturbed in their arrangement. 

In order to clinch the results of their trapping Vearncombe was in- 
formed that the experiment had been a "success" but in order to "avoid 
criticism" he was asked for an assurance that the package had not 
been tampered with. It soon came in the form of a written state- 
ment that the package had been treated by him and returned to the 
sender as originally sealed when he received it. 

The committee had arranged fourteen tests, twelve of which had 
been violated, and as two or three violations would have been sufficient 
evidence of fraud it did not consider more necessary but reported that 
it had been established by the evidence that fraud-proof packages pro- 
duced no results whereas it found "Spirit extras" in packages which 
had been tampered with and that "collectively the result is damning." 

The committee next directed its attention to Mrs. Deane who, be- 
cause of "complications from annoying sitters," had given up private 
practice at her residence and was working under engagement with the 
British College of Psychic Science. The Principal of the College, 
Mr. McKenzie, had vouched for her as being absolutely conscientious 
and straightforward in her work and one fully qualified to produce 
"psychic extras without resort to trickery." Mr. Harry Price and 
Mr. Seymour negotiated for a private sitting with her. She required 
that sealed plates should be sent several days in advance for "mag- 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 335 

netization." Six plates were exposed at the sitting and on most of 
them "extras** appeared, but evidence was obtained that the package 
had been opened previous to the sitting and the plates treated but there 
had been no substitution of plates. 

An effort was made to get more convincing evidence and after 
considerable difficulty a second sitting was arranged for. This time 
the committee went to a manufacturer, whose plates had been men- 
tioned by the college people as being preferable, and had a special 
package made up and sealed. In this package each plate was so 
marked that substitution or manipulation were sure to be revealed. 
It was simply fraud-proof. 

At the sitting the regular prayer and hymn singing were conducted 
as usual after which the plates were exposed and developed. It was 
found that the package had been opened previously, the top plate re- 
moved and another substituted for it and on this substituted plate, 
only, there was a "Spirit extra.*' At a third sitting a fresh box of se- 
cretly marked plates was opened in the presence of Mrs. Deane. 
Four plates were loaded into as many separate slides and Mrs. Deane 
carried them into the adjoining studio. On a table in the studio was a 
hand-bag and beside it a hymn book. The hand in which she held 
the four slides momentarily disappeared inside the bag while at the 
same time she picked up the hymn book with her other hand. With 
the hymn book she had picked up a duplicate slide which, with a per- 
fectly natural movement, she added to the three in her other hand one 
of the four marked plates having been dropped in the bag where it 
was found later by one of the investigators who examined the bag , 
while Mrs. Deane was absent for a moment. 

Following the customary religious service the four plates were 
exposed and then developed. Three plates which had the identifying 
marks had no Spirit extra, but the fourth plate which had no iden- 
tification mark did have a Spirit form. 

As a result of this investigation the committee found that when- 
ever there was an opportunity packages were opened and treated, 
plates substituted, and in the tests which followed "Spirit extras*' 
were secured, but when the conditions were absolutely fraud-proof 
there were no "extras,** and so far as it was able to discover all the 
so-called Spirit photography rested on the flimsy foundation of fraud. 

In December 1921 I tried to visit Mr. Hope and have some Spirit 
photographs made but I was informed that his engagements would 
keep him busy for months and that I would have to wait my turn. 



336 HARRY HOUDINI 

I then got in touch with a friend of mine by the name of DeVega* 
who lives in Glasgow and asked him if he would not see Hope and 
arrange to sit for a photograph. After considerable correspondence 
between DeVega and Hope the latter agreed to make the photo- 
graphs provided DeVega would go to Crewe. DeVega assented to 
this, and an appointment was made and the sitting took place. The 
following account of DeVega's experience is taken from a full report 
which he sent me. 

"Dec. 16, 1921. Arrived at No. 144 Market Street, the door was 
opened by an elderly lady. I asked if Mr. Hope was in and presently 
he came down. I told him that a well known member of the Spirit- 
ualist Society and a man known to be a collector of Spirit photographs 
sent me and that seemed to be sufficient for Mr. Hope. 

"I had brought my own camera along and asked him whether the 
pictures could be taken with it. However, he said he used his own 
camera but would let me investigate it all I wanted to. He told me 
he could not possibly photograph me that forenoon as there was 
another gentleman coming but arranged for two o'clock. 

"I watched Market Street, from a distance, all the forenoon but 
saw no one go in. I arrived there promptly but it was 2:30 before 
Mr. Hope arrived. A Mrs. Buxton joined us. She, Hope and myself 
sat around a small table. They sang hymns, said a prayer and asked 
the table if all was favorable. 

"At his request I placed my packages of plates on the table. They 
placed their hands above them and sang again. Hope suddenly gave 
a quiver and said, 'Now we will try.' He showed me the dark room, 
which is a small arrangement of about six feet high, three feet wide 
and five feet long. There were two shelves and on these were dusters, 
cloths, bottles of chemicals, a lamp, etc. The lamp is an old affair 
lit by a candle. The room is so very small that when two people are 
in it there is no room to move about. 

"He next showed me the camera and asked me to examine it. 
I gave a glance at it and told him I did not doubt his word, which 
seemed to please him a great deal. I thought if it was a fake he 
would not allow me to examine it as closely as he asked me to. It 



*I would like to say for the benefit of the reader that DeVega is a skilled 
magical entertainer; has invented a number of legerdemain feats; con- 
tributed a number of interesting articles to magical publications; is a skilled 
artist and a clever photographer. I was very fortunate in being able to 
secure a man of his ability for the investigation. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 337 

was an old make, one fourth plate, studio camera and had no shutter, 
but worked with a cap over a lens (the cap was missing). He next 
showed me the dark slide. It was an old-fashioned, double wood end 
slide. I examined it very closely but it was unprepared. 

"The studio itself is a little glass hot-house arrangement built on 
to the side of the house. A green curtain is hung at the one end at 
which the sitter sits. 

"We went again into the dark room to load the plates. He gave 
me his slide and told me to leave two of my own dark slides down 
in front of the light as he would try my camera too. I opened my 
plates and placed two in his dark slide and closed it. It was placed 
on the under shelf where I could see it faintly. He then asked me to 
open my own two slides slightly and sign my name on them. (I signed 
J. B. Gilchrist.) As I signed them he moved the lamp to let me see 
better. This threw the one fourth plate in the shadow. After that 
he handed me the one fourth plate slide to sign the two plates in the 
same way. 

"/ am sure, although I did not actually see him, that the slide I 
loaded, was changed for another one. It was too dark to see under 
the level of the shelf. I, for a moment, considered letting my pencil 
slip and spoil the plate and load in another from my pocket but I 
thought it advisable to let things go on as I would then see just what 
his usual procedure was. I wondered at the time Why I could not 
have been told to take the plates from the package, sign them and then 
place the plates In the slide and place the slide In my pocket until they 
were to be exposed. Why was it necessary to sign my own plates In 
my dark slide at all? In fact, there was no necessity for me to take my 
slide In the dark room. 

"We went back into the studio, again I was asked to examine the 
camera. However, I took up my position in front of the camera. 
Mrs. Buxton stood at one side and Mr. Hope at the other. The 
dark focusing cloth was low over the lens (the cap being missing) 
and the slide open. Mrs. Buxton and Hope sang a hymn and each 
took an end of the cloth, uncovering the lens. This was repeated 
with other plates as well. 

"Now my camera was set up. I was asked to open the slide and 
show them how the shutter worked. The exposure was made. He 
placed his hand in front of the camera, covering the lens and asked 
me to open the slide myself as he did not want to touch it. Now why 
did he close the lens In that way? It would have been simpler to 



338 HARRY HOUDINI 

have pushed down the open front of the slide, closing it, but I believe 
that on his hand was a spot of some radiant salt or some such sub- 
stance that would cause a bright spot to appear on the negative, such 
as appeared on that plate when it was developed. Holding his hand 
in front of the lens while an exposure was being made is such an un- 
natural action that I believe that was the cause of what he called 'a 
Spirit Light/ when it was developed. The next photograph I told 
him to press the release again to close the shutter. He did so. 

"We then adjourned into the dark room to develop the plates. 
The two, one fourth plates were placed by me, side by side, in a dish 
and the two three and a half by two and a half in another dish and 
developed. By pouring the developer from one dish to another, one 
of the one quarter plates flashed up dark. I remarked that one was 
coming up very quickly and he replied that 'when they come up like 
that it is a good sign for it is very likely there is an "extra" on them. 
I said no more but in my experience and knowledge of photography, 
such an occurrence is impossible unless the plates have been previously 
exposed. 

"The two plates were taken from the same packet, loaded into the 
dark slide at the same time, with the same dark room light and the 
same distance from the light. They were then exposed on the same 
subject immediately after each other; the same length of exposure be- 
ing given (I counted them mentally) with the same aperture of lens. 
The plates were then placed side by side in the same dish of developer 
and I contend that the image must come up at a uniform speed on 
both plates and that it is impossible for one to flash up before the other 
and darken all over unless it was previously exposed, especially when 
there was no variation in the light when the exposure was made, it 
being three P. M., December 16, clear sky, no sunshine. 

"An 'extra* did appear on this (one fourth plate). It is a clean 
shaven face above mine and drapery hanging from it. On my own 
three and a half by two and a half a light splotch is over my face. 
Mrs. Buxton informed me that it was a 'Spirit light* but Mr. Hope 
believed he saw the faint features of a face in it." 

While in Denver, Colorado, in May, 1923, I called one morning 
on Mr. Alexander Martin, whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had told 
me was a noted psychic photographer and a very wonderful man in his 
particular line. Doyle himself had called on Martin the day before 
but as Martin did not feel in the mood there had been no demon- 
stration. In this Sir Arthur was no more unfortunate than Hyslop, 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 339 

the eminent Psychic investigator, who, according to Sir Arthur, 
had made a special journey from England to Denver in order to have 
a seance with Martin but had not been successful. 

Martin lived about fifteen minutes out of town by taxi. I took 
with me my chief assistant, James Collins, so I would have a witness 
if anything of a psychic nature occurred. Collins had my camera 
as I wanted at least to get a picture of Martin. We found him 
standing in the doorway of a rear building and after I introduced my- 
self he seemed cordial. I showed him some Spirit photographs which 
I had with me and after a few minutes talk I asked him if he was 
willing that Collins should take a snap-shot at us. He thought I was 
asking for a sitting and replied that he did not feel good and besides 
had been engaged to take the pictures of the children in two schools. 
I kept on talking in my most entertaining manner and before long 
he invited us into the house saying he would photograph both of us. 
Meanwhile Collins had secured five snap-shots at close range without 
Martin knowing it. 

When we went into the house I walked right into the dark room 
but Martin called me saying : 

"Now don't you go in there, just wait a minute." 

While we waited outside Martin spent about eight minutes in the 
dark room. Then he came out and we went into his studio, a simple 
room with a black background. He had me sit down and placed 
Collins behind me on my right. As a test I told Collins to step over 
to the other side as it might look better. Then when he had done so 
I turned to Martin and asked: 

"Is that all right or is it better to have him take the original 
position ?" 

"I think it would be nicer if he stood where he was in the first 
place," Martin replied. 

This led me to think he was keeping that side of the plate clean 
for something to appear. There was considerable light in the room 
and Martin pulled a dark screen on our right explaining that he did 
not need much light for the psychic stuff, then putting a shade on his 
eyes he turned to us and said : 

"Now keep quiet and I will try and do something." 

When he uncovered the lens I counted the time of the exposure 
which was about fifteen seconds. As he covered it again he said to us : 

"That is all I can do to-day. Now I must hurry away." 

We thanked him and as we were going out I asked him if he had 



340 HARRY HOUDINt 

any photographs we could see. He went into an adjoining room but 
closed the door so we had no opportunity to look in. When he came 
out he had four photographs which he allowed me to keep but he 
would not write on them who they were of. 

The next day I went to see him again and he gave me another 
seance. This time he said he would have to cut a plate and he gave 
me a book to read while I waited. In looking for a piece of paper 
on which to write my address he picked up a lot of newspapers and I 
noticed some scientific publications systematically inserted between 
the leaves which led me to think he was trying to hide his knowledge 
and wished to appear as a simple minded old man who knew but little 
about photography. 

I have not the slightest doubt that Mr. Martin's Spirit photo- 
graphs were simply double exposures. I think his method was to cut 
out various pictures, place them on a background and make an ex- 
posure. His plates were then ready for his next sitter, who in the 
above instance was myself. Being an expert photographer he might 
have used the original wet plate method of making an exposure, 
developing it, washing the emulsion off the plate and refmishing it 
with a new emulsion but I am convinced that the two Spirit photos 
which he made of me were simply double exposures. 

The technique of photography does not trouble the psychic operator. 
He has no regard for the laws of light or chemistry. The fact that in 
all of his pictures the Spirits appear to be perfectly conscious of posing 
does not disconcert him, nor is he disturbed because they always appear 
as they were in life. How much more interesting it would be and how 
much more such photographs would add to our knowledge and aid the 
advancement of science if once in a while the Spirits would permit 
themselves to be snapped while engaged in some Spiritual occupation. 

From a logical, rational point of view, Spirit photography is a most 
barefaced imposition and stands as evidence of the credulity of those 
who are in sympathy with the superstitions of occultism. It is also 
evidence of how unscrupulous mediums become and how calloused 
their consciences. 

In this country there is no such organized group of Spirit photo- 
graphers as the Crewe photographers in England. Since Mumler's 
narrow escape from deserved punishment and his disappearance there 
have been few who had the courage to operate as boldly as he did. 
The most conspicuous one practicing at the present time is Dr. (?) 




Photograph of Houdini showing so-called "Spirit Extras" of President 

and Mrs. Harding. Presented to Professor Carl Murchison 

by Mr. Houdini before the latter's death. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 341 

W. M. Keeler, who according to Spiritualistic publications has a 
nerve and conscience equal to any psychic undertaking. 

With Spirit photography as with all other so-called psychic marvels, 
there never has been, nor is now, any proof of genuineness beyond the 
claim made by the medium. In each and every case it is a simple 
question of veracity, and when the most sincere believers in Spiritual- 
ism unhesitatingly admit, as they do, that all mediums at times resort 
to fraud and lying, what dependence can possibly be placed in any 
statement they make? 

There can be no better evidence of rottenness in the whole structure 
that the fact that for upwards of forty years there have been standing 
offers of money in amounts ranging from five hundred to five thou- 
sand dollars for a single case of so-called phenomena which could be 
proven actually psychic. Knowing the character of mediums as I do 
I claim if proof were possible there is not a single medium, including 
Spirit photographers, who would not have jumped at the chance 
to win such a prize. If there are any who are operating honestly let 
them come forward with proof and take the reward. 

Ill 
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 

Spiritualism has claimed among its followers numbers of brilliant 
minds scientists, philosophers, professionals and authors. Whether 
these great minds have been misdirected, whether they have followed 
the subject because they were convinced fully of its truth, or whether 
they have been successfully hoodwinked by some fraudulent medium, 
are matters of conjecture and opinion ; nevertheless they have been 
the means of bringing into the ranks of Spiritualism numbers of those 
who allow themselves to be led by minds greater and more powerful 
than their own. 

Such a one is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His name comes auto- 
matically to the mind of the average human being to-day at the men- 
tion of Spiritualism. No statistician could fathom the influence he 
has exerted through his lectures and his writings or number the end- 
less chain he guides into a belief in communication with the Realm 
Beyond. His faith and belief and confidence in the movement have 
been one of the greatest assets of present-day believers and whatever 
one's views on the subject, it is impossible not to respect the belief of 
this great author who has wholeheartedly and unflinchingly thrown 



342 HARRY HOUDINI 

his life and soul into the conversion of unbelievers. Sir Arthur 
believes. In his great mind there is no doubt. 

He is a brilliant man, a deep thinker, well versed in every respect, 
and comes of a gifted family. His grandfather, John Doyle, was 
born in Dublin in 1797. He won popularity and fame in London 
with his caricatures of prominent people. Many of his original draw- 
ings are now preserved in the museum under the title "H, B. Car- 
icatures." He died in 1868. An uncle of Sir Arthur's was the 
famous "Dicky Doyle," the well-known cartoonist of Punch and de- 
signer of the familiar cover of that magazine. In his later years he 
became prominent as an illustrator, making drawings for The New- 
comes in 1853, and becoming especially successful in illustrating such 
fairy stories as Hunt's "Jar of Honey," Ruskin's "King of the Golden 
River," and Montelbas' "Fairy Tales of all Nations." The fact 
that he leaned toward Spiritualism is not generally known. Sir 
Arthur's father, Charles A. Doyle, was also an artist of great talent 
though not in a commercial way. His home life is beautiful and Lady 
Doyle has told me on numerous occasions that he never loses his tem- 
per and that his nature is at all times sunshiny and sweet. His child- 
ren are one hundred per cent children in every way and it is beauti- 
ful to note the affection between the father, mother and the children. 
He is a great reader who absorbs what he reads but he believes what 
he sees in print only if it is favorable to Spiritualism. 

The friendship of Sir Arthur and myself dates back to the time 
when I was playing the Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton, England. 
We had been corresponding and had discussed through the medium 
of the mail, questions regarding Spiritualism. He invited Mrs. Hou- 
dini and myself to the Doyle home in Crowborough, England, and in 
that way an acquaintanceship was begun which has continued ever 
since. Honest friendship is one of life's most precious treasures and I 
pride myself in thinking that we have held that treasure sacred in 
every respect. During all these years we have exchanged clippings 
which we thought might be of mutual interest and on a number of 
occasions have had an opportunity to discuss them in person. Our 
degree of friendship may be judged best from the following letter 
of Sir Arthur's. 

"15 BUCKINGHAM PALACE MANSION, 
S. W. 1, 

"March 8, 1923. 
"Mv DEAR HOUDINI : 

For goodness' sake take care of those dangerous stunts of yours. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 343 

You have done enough of them. I speak because I have just read 
of the death of the "Human Fly."* It is worth it? 

"Yours very sincerely, 
(Signed) A. CON AN DOYLE." 

It would be difficult to determine just when Sir Arthur and I first 
discussed Spiritualism, but from that talk to the present we have never 
agreed upon it. Our viewpoints differ; we do not believe the same 
thing. I know that he treats Spiritualism as a religion. He believes 
that it is possible and than he can communicate with the dead. Ac- 
cording to his marvellous analytical brain he has had proof positive 
of this. There is no doubt that Sir Arthur is sincere in his belief and 
it is this sincerity which has been one of the fundamentals of our 
friendship. I have respected everything he has said and / have al- 
ways been unbiased, because at no time have I refused to follow the 
subject with an open mind. I cannot say the same for him for he 
has refused to discuss the matter in any other voice except that of 
Spiritualism and in all our talks quoted only those who favored it in 
every way, and if one does not follow him sheep-like during his in- 
vestigations then he is blotted out forever so far as Sir Arthur is con- 
cerned. Unfortunately he uses the reasoning, so common among 
Spiritualists, that no matter how often mediums are caught cheating 
he believes the only reason for it is that they have overstepped their 
bounds and resorted to trickery in an effort to convince. I wonder 
if some day Sir Arthur will forget that he is a Spiritualist and argue a 
case of trickery with the sound logic of an outsider. I firmly believe 
that if he ever does he will see and acknowledge some of his errors. 
I am ready to believe in Sir Arthur's teachings if he can convince me 
beyond the shadow of a doubt that his demonstrations are genuine. 

There is no doubt in my mind, Sir Arthur believes implicitly in 
the mediums with whom he has convened and he knows positively, in 
his own mind, they are all genuine. Even if they are caught cheating 
he always has some sort of an alibi which excuses the medium and 



*On March 5, 1923, Harry F. Young, known as "The Human Fly," fell 
ten stories from a window ledge of the Hotel Martinique, New York City. 
He succumbed before he reached the hospital. 

For the benefit of those who do not know, "A Human Fly" it an acrobat 
who makes a specialty of scaling tall buildings, simply clinging to the aper- 
tures or crevices of the outward architecture of such building for the edifica- 
tion of an assembled throng, for which he receives a plate collection, a salary 
or is engaged especially for publicity purposes. It is not a very lucrative 
profession and its dangers are many. 



344 HARRY HOUDINI 

the deed. He insists that the Fox Sisters were genuine, even though 
both Margaret and Katie confessed to fraud and explained how and 
why they became mediums and the methods used by them to pro- 
duce the raps. 

"Like Caesar's wife always above suspicion," Hope and Mrs. 
Deane pass in his category as genuine mediums. He has often told 
me that Palladino* and Home some day would be canonized for the 
great work they did in the interest of Spiritualism, even though they 
were both exposed time and time again. In all gravity he would say 
to me, "Look what they did to Joan of Arc." To Sir Arthur it is 
a matter of most sacred moment. It is his religion, and he would in- 
variably tell me what a cool observer he was and how hard it would 
be to fool him, or in any way deceive him.** He told me that he did 
not believe any of "the nice old lady mediums" would do anything 
wrong and it was just as unlikely for some old gentleman, innocent 
as a child unborn, to resort to trickery. But there comes to my mind 
the notorious Mrs. Catherine Nicol and her two daughters who were 
continuously getting in and out of the law's net, usually breaking the 
heads of a few detectives in the process. Among the "nice old lady" 
mediums might be mentioned a prominent medium of Boston who 
was accused of taking unlawfully from one of her believers over eight 
thousand dollars in cash. 

Another case was that of a medium who received $1,000 from a 
man in Baltimore for the privilege of a few minutes' chat with the 
Spirit of his dead wife. He later sued her for fraud. Later she was 
exposed while giving a seance in Paris, but after a few years she 
appeared in New York City. 

At this time Asst. District Attorney Krotel asked that she be 
brought into court to answer to a charge of selling California mining 



*On April 14, 1922, in New York City, Sir Arthur, according to his book, 
"Our American Adventure," attended a seance given by a young Italian by 
the name of Pecoraro. During the seance the name Palladino was given and 
he was told that the famous medium was present. A voice from the cabinet, 
supposedly Palladino's, said, "I, who used to call back the Spirits, now come 
back as a Spirit myself/' to which Sir Arthur answered, "Palladino, we send 
you our love and our best encouragement." However, the force was broken 
by "the absurd and vile dancing of the table," and there was no physical 
manifestation. This shows Sir Arthur's will to excuse even Palladino, who 
\svas on numerous occasions exposed as a fraudulent medium. 

**ALL Spiritualists say that. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 345 

stock to her followers through the advice of certain disembodied 
Spirits. The stock was found to be worthless. 

There was also a woman, who was arrested and convicted for 
vagrancy in Seattle and numerous other cases, such as that of Katie 
King of Philadelphia in 1875; however, no matter how many cases 
I cited, it did not seem to make any impression on Sir Arthur. 

I had known for some time that a number of people wanted to 
draw Doyle into a controversy. When I saw Sir Arthur I told him 
to be careful of his statements and explained a number of pitfalls he 
could avoid. Nevertheless, despite my warnings, he would say: 
"That's all right, Houdini, don't worry about me, I am well able to 
take care of myself. They cannot fool me." To which I would re- 
ply he had no idea of the subtleness of some of the people who were 
trying to draw his fire. 

When I called Sir Arthur's attention to the number of people who 
have gone crazy on the subject because of persistent reading, con- 
tinuous attendance at seances and trying automatic writing, his an- 
swer would be: "People have been going mad* for years, and you 
will find on investigation that many go mad on other subjects besides 
Spiritualism." On being reminded that most of these people hear 
voices and see visions, he denied that they were hallucinations, and 
insisted that he had spoken to different memebrs of his family.f 

I recall several flagrant instances in which Sir. Arthur's faith has, 
I think, misguided him. One particular time was when he attended 
a public seance by a lady known as "The Medium in the Mask." 
Among those present at the time were Lady Glenconncr, Sir Henry 
Lunn and Mr. Sidney A. Mosley, a special representative of a news- 
paper. 

According to reports, the medium wore a veil like a "yashmak." 
She appeared very nervous. A number of articles, including a ring that 

*Dr. A. T. Schofield wrote in the Daily Sketch, February 9, 1920, that thou- 
sands of persons were estimated by a famous mental specialist to have been 
driven to the asylum through Spiritualism. A truly pitiful record, 

fLetter from Sir Arthur to H. H. (dated April 2, 1920) : "I have had very 
conclusive evidence since my two books were written. Six times I have 
spoken face to face with my son, twice with my brother and once with my 
nephew, all beyond doubt in their own voices and on private matters, so for 
me there is not, nor has been for a long time, any doubt. I know it is true, 
but we can't communicate that certainty to others. It will come or not, ac- 
cording to how far we work for it. It is the old axiom, 'Seek and ye shall 
find.' " 



346 HARRY HOUDINI 

had belonged to Sir Arthur's deceased son, were put in a box, and the 
medium correctly gave the initials on the ring, although Sir Arthur 
said that they could hardly be discerned, even in a good light, they 
were so worn off.* 

Later in describing another article, the medium said the words, 
"Murphy" and "button" and it was afterwards explained that "Mur- 
phy's button" was a surgical operation term. She said that the per- 
son described would die as a result of the operation. Unfortunately, 
for the medium, no one present knew of such a case and yet, Sir Arthur 
described this seance as very clever.^ 

The "Masked Lady" was sponsored by a theatrical agent and il- 
lusionist and all proceedings of the seances were brought to light in 
a suit against Mr. George Grossman and Mr. Edward Laurillard, 
theatrical producers, to recover damages for breach of agreement to 
place a West End theatre at his disposal. 

Accounts of mediums by the name of "Thompson" have misled 
several people. There is a Thompson of New York and a Thomson 
of Chicago. Sir Arthur had a seance with Thompson of New York 
and according to all the news clippings I have had they claimed to 
have brought back his mother. In fact it was stated that he asked 
permission to kiss his mother's hand. 

The Thomsons got into trouble in Chicago and New Orleans 
also.** As a matter of fact I was in Chicago when their trial took 
place. I had been present at two of their seances. The first was in 
New York at the Morosco Theatre and I had all I could do to keep 



*Rcport of trial before Mr. Justice Darling Morning Post, July 16, 1920. 

tl have it on the positive word of Stuart Cumberland, who was at one of 
the seances of the "Masked Medium" and he gave me definite specifications 
and positive facts of the reading of the initials in the ring submitted by Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle to the "Masked Medium" whom he said possessed re- 
markable powers. Stuart Cumberland told me a number of ways this feat 
could be done. Among them, the black boxes were exchanged surreptitiously 
in the dark, and then brought back. It is an easy thing to present a box 
for inspection and yet have false compartments in it so that the contents will 
fall out. It was only after the methods were told innumerable times to Sir 
Arthur that he condemned it as a fraud. 

According to the New Orleans Times-Pic zyune, March 9, 1923 Clarence 
Thomson, self-styled missionary, President and member of the Board of Di- 
rectors of the International Psychical Association, was fined $25 and sentenced 
to serve SO days in jail. He admitted he had been arrested in Chicago and 
Kansas City for conducting seances, but said he had been honorably dis- 
charged. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 347 

J. F. Rinns from breaking up the performance. The second was in 
Chicago. It was a special seance given after my performance at the 
Palace Theatre. I was accompanied by H. H. Windsor, Publisher 
and Editor of Popular Mechanics; Oliver R. Barrett, a prominent 
member of the bar; Mr. Husband Manning, author; and Leonard 
Hicks, a well-known hotel proprietor. Among others present at the 
seance were Cyrus McCormick, Jr., Muriel McCormick, and Mrs. 
McCormick McClintock. We witnessed a number of unsatisfactory 
phenomena and afterwards adjourned to the home of Cyrus McCor- 
mick and discussed the seance, being unanimously of the opinion that 
it was a glaring fraud just as I had believed the one in New York 
to be. 

At the Morosco Theatre, New York City, the Thomsons made the 
broad statement that they had been tested by Stead and Sir Oliver 
Lodge and at a special seance he had come out and publicly endorsed 
Mrs. Thomson as being genuine. The following letter not only dis- 
proves this but explains the feeling of an active Spiritualist toward 
the Thomsons. 

"NORMANTON, 

"LAKE, 

" SALISBURY. 

"7th January, 1921. 

"DEAR MR. HOUDINI: 

"It is a pleasure to hear from you, and I thank you for asking the 
question about the Thomsons. I have replied to one or two other 
queries of the same kind, but I would be grateful if you would make 
it known that any statement that I have vouched for their genuine- 
ness, is absolutely false. 

"I only saw them once, at a time when they called themselves 
Tomson. It was at Mr. Stead's house, at his urgent request. I con- 
sidered the performance fraudulent, but the proof was not absolutely 
complete because the concluding search was not allowed, and the 
gathering dispersed in disorder, or at least with some heat. 

"I felt sorry at this termination, and it is just possible that Thom- 
son genuinely thought I was favourably impressed. That is the 
charitable view to take, but it is not the true view, and Mr. Stead 
was annoyed with me because of my skeptical attitude. ( He has since 
admitted to me, from the other side, that he was wrong and I was 
right; bringing the subject up spontaneously. This latter statement, 
however, is not evidence.) 

"What I should like the public to be assured of, is that I was not 
favourably impressed, and never vouched for them in any way. 

"I am afraid I must assume that Thomson is aware of that, and 



348 HARRY HOUDINI 

therefore is not acting in good faith, because once in England the same 
sort of statement was made, either at Leicester or at Nottingham I 
think, and I wrote to a paper to contradict it. 

"With all good wishes believe me, "Faithfully yours, 

(Signed) ff OLIVER LODGE/' 

Sir Arthur personally told me that he was convinced of the genuine- 
ness of the Welsh miners of Cardiff, or Thomas Brothers. Stuart 
Cumberland who was infinitely my superior in investigation (he had 
a start of 20 years) told me that there wasn't a chance of the Thomas 
Brothers being genuine, and related how, owing to the great interest 
of Sir Arthur in them, the London Daily Express eventually induced 
them to hold a seance before a committee of investigators. Cumber- 
land was to have been one of the committee, but the mediums refused 
to allow him to be "Among those present." As they refused to pro- 
ceed if Cumberland was admitted, it was thought advisable to elimi- 
nate him. Before leaving, Cumberland arranged the musical in- 
struments that were used and instructed the investigating committee 
how to detect fraud. The feature of the seance was the passing 
along in the circle, of a button and a pair of suspenders, which were 
thrown on the knees of a news Editor present. I ask the common- 
sense reader what benefit this would be to project a button clear 
across the room and to find a pair of suspenders on a sitter's knee? 
If there is any object lesson in this, please let me know! 

At the seance, Lady Doyle was asked whether she was cold, on an- 
swering in the affirmative a holland jacket which had been worn by 
the medium was dropped in her lap. The Thomas Brothers claimed 
this had been done by the Spirits. When the seance -was over, the 
medium was found bound but minus his coat. 

When I quizzed Sir Arthur about the manner in which the Thomas 
Brothers of Cardiff were bound during a seance which he attended, 
he told me that they were secured so tightly that is was impossible for 
them to move as they were absolutely helpless. I told him that did 
not make it genuine, for any number of mediums had been tied the 
same way and had managed to free themselves. He replied that I 
might be able to release myself by natural means, but that mediums 
do not have to, as they always receive Spiritual help. Maybe so, but 
I should like, sometime, to tie them myself and see whether the Spirits 
could release them under test conditions.* 



*Other performers are doing this feat. I have performed it regularly 
for thirty years without any supernatural power whatever. 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 349 

I reminded Sir Arthur of the Davenport Brothers and called to his 
attention the fact that they were able to release themselves. Sir Ar- 
thur feels very strongly in the matter of the Davenport Brothers and 
although I have told him and proven to him that I was a pupil of 
Ira Erastus Davenport and that Ira personally told me that they did 
not claim to be Spiritualists and their performances were not given in 
the name of Spiritualism, Sir Arthur insists that they were Spiritual- 
ists and has strongly said that if they did their performances under any 
other name, then Ira was "not only a liar, but a blasphemer as he 
went around with Mr. Ferguson, a clergyman, and mixed it all up 
with religion." 

I want to go on record that to the best of my knowledge and belief 
I never stated that Sir Arthur endorsed the mediumship of the New 
York Thompsons. I did say there were full page articles:): where he 
was illustrated as accepting the genuineness of the materialization of 
his mother. I never claimed that Sir Arthur's son or brother came 
through the Thomas mediums in Cardiff. I did state, that Sir Arthur 
said -they were genuine and that they, the mediums, were helpless to 
move because he had tied them and in his judgment if they were tied 
in my presence I would be convinced of their genuineness. I wish 
to call attention to the fact that in a letter written by the late Stuart 
Cumberland he agreed with me that there was not a vestige of truth 
in the mediumship of the Thomas Brothers, and regarding Sir Ar- 
thur's endorsement of the "Masked Lady/' I did not say he endorsed 
her although 1 should judge from newspaper* accounts he seemed 
very much impressed. 

Sir Arthur has rarely given me an opportunity to deny or affirm any 
statement. In fact one of our sore points of discussion has been the 
matter of being quoted, or misquoted, in newspapers or periodicals 
and it seems that Sir Arthur always believes everything I have been 
quoted as having said. When I was in Oakland, California, I was 
interviewed by a Mr. Henderson of the Oakland Tribune. I gave 
him some material to work on, enough for one article from which, 
to my surprise, he wrote a series of eight articles enlarging and mis- 
quoting to an "nth" degree. Sir Arthur took exception to a number 
of statements which I was supposed to have made and he replied to 



^These articles were syndicated, New York American, Sept. 3rd, 1922. 
*Morning Post, July 16, 1920. 



350 HARRY HOUDINI 

them caustically through the press and then sent me the following 
letter in explanation. 

"THE AMBASSADOR 
"Los ANGELES 

"May 23, 1923. 
"My DEAR HOUDINI : 

"I have had to handle you a little roughly in the Oakland Tribune 
because they send me a long screed under quotation marks, so it is 
surely accurate. It is so full of errors that I don't know where to be- 
gin. I can't imagine why you say such wild things which have no 
basis in fact at all. I put the Thompsons down as humbugs. I never 
heard of my son or brother through the Thomas brothers. They were 
never exposed. I never said that Masked Medium was genuine. I 
wish you would refer to me before publishing such injurious stuff 
which I have to utterly contradict. I would always tell you the exact 
facts as I have done with the Zancigs. 

"Yours sincerely, 

"A. CONAN DOYLE/' 

"I hate sparring with a friend in public, but what can I do when 
you say things which are not correct, and which I have to contradict 
or else they go by default. It is the same with all this ridiculous 
stuff of Rinn's. Unless I disprove it, people imagine it is true. 

"A. C. D." 

At the written invitation of Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle Mrs. 
Houdini and I visited them while they were stopping at the Am- 
bassador Hotel in Atlantic City. One day as Sir Arthur, Mrs. 
Houdini and I were sitting on the sand skylarking with the children 
Sir Arthur excused himself saying that he was going to have his usual 
afternoon nap. He left us but returned in a short time and said 
"Houdini, if agreeable, Lady Doyle will give you a special seance, as 
she has a feeling that she might have a message come through. At 
any rate, she is willing to try," and turning to Mrs. Houdini he said, 
"we would like to be alone. You do not mind if we make the ex- 
periment without you." Smilingly, my good little wife said, "Cer- 
tainly not, go right ahead, Sir Arthur; I will leave Houdini in your 
charge and I know that he will be willing to go to the seance." 
Doyle said, "You understand, Mrs. Houdini, that this will be a test 
to see whether we can make any Spirit come through for Houdini, 
and conditions may prove better if no other force is present." 

Before leaving with Sir Arthur, Mrs. Houdini cued me. We did 
a second sight or mental performance years ago and still use a system 
or code whereby we can speak to each other in the presence of others, 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 351 

even though to all outward appearances we are merely talking, point- 
ing or doing the most innocent looking things, but which have dif- 
ferent meanings to us. 

In that manner Mrs. Houdini told me that on the night previous 
she had gone into detail with Lady Doyle about the great love I bear 
for my Mother. She related to her a number of instances, such as, 
my returning home from long trips, sometimes as far away as 
Australia, and spending months with my Mother and wearing only 
the clothes that she had given me, because I thought it would please 
her and give her some happiness. My wife also remarked about my 
habit of laying my head on my Mother's breast, in order to hear her 
heart beat. Just little peculiarities that mean so much to a mother 
and son when they love one another as we did. 

I walked with Sir Arthur to the Doyles* suite. Sir Arthur drew 
down the shades so as to exclude the bright light. We three, Lady 
Doyle, Sir Arthur and I, sat around the table on which were a number 
of pencils and a writing pad, placing our hands on the surface of the 
table. 

Sir Arthur started the seance with a devout prayer. I had made 
up my mind that I would be as religious as it was within my power 
to be and not at any time did I scoff at the ceremony. I excluded all 
earthly thoughts and gave my whole soul to the seance. 

I was willing to believe, even wanted to believe. It was weird to 
me and with a beating heart I waited, hoping that I might feel once 
more the presence of my beloved Mother. If there ever was a son 
who idolized and worshipped his Mother, whose every thought was 
for her happiness and comfort, that son was myself. My Mother 
meant my life, her happiness was synonymous with my peace of mind. 
For that reason, if no other, I wanted to give my every deepest at- 
tention to what was going on. It meant to me an easing of all pain 
that I had in my heart. I especially wanted to speak to my Mother, 
because that day, June 77, 1922, was her birthday.* I was deter- 
mined to embrace Spiritualism if there was any evidence strong 
enough to down the doubts that have crowded my brain for the past 
thirty years. 

Presently, Lady Doyle was "seized by a Spirit." Her hands shook 
and beat the table, her voice trembled and she called to the Spirits 



*This was not known to Lady Doyle. If it had been my Dear Mother's 
Spirit communicating a message, she, knowing her birthday was my most 
holy holiday, surely would have commented on it. 



352 HARRY HOUDINI 

to give her a message. Sir Arthur tried to quiet her, asked her to re- 
strain herself, but her hand thumped on the table, her whole body 
shook and at last, making a cross at the head of the page, started 
writing. And as she finished each page, Sir Arthur tore the sheet off 
and handed it to me. I sat serene through it all, hoping and wishing 
that I might feel my mother's presence. There wasn't even a sem- 
blance of it. Everyone who has ever had a worshipping Mother and 
has lost earthly touch, knows the feeling which will come over him 
at the thought of sensing her presence. 

The letter which follows, purported to have come from my Mother, 
I cannot, as much as I desire, accept as having been written or in- 
spired by the soul or Spirit of my sweet Mother. 

"Oh, my darling, thank God, thank God, at last I'm through 
I've tried, oh, so often now I am happy. Why, of course I want to 
talk to my boy my own beloved boy Friends, thank you, with all 
my heart for this." 

"You have answered the cry of my heart and of his God bless 
him a thousandfold for all his life for me never had a Mother 
such a son tell him not to grieve soon he'll get all the evidence 
he is so anxious for Yes we know tell him I want him to try and 
write in his own home. It will be far better." 

"I will work with him he is so, so dear to me I am preparing so 
sweet a home for him in which some day in God's good time he will 
come to it, is one of my great joys preparing for, our future." 

"I am so happy in this life it is so full and joyous my only 
shadow has been that my beloved one hasn't known how often I have 
been with him all the while, all the while here away from my heart's 
darling combining my work thus in this life of mine." 

"It is so different over here, so much larger and bigger and more 
beautiful so lofty all sweetness around one nothing that hurts 
and we see our beloved ones on earth that is such a joy and com- 
fort to us Tell him I love him more than ever the years only in- 
crease it and his goodness fills my soul with gladness and thank- 
fulness. Oh, just this, it is me. I want him only to know that 
that I have bridged the gulf that is what I wanted, oh, so much 
Now I can rest in peace how soon " 

"I always read my beloved son's mind his dear mind there is so 
much I want to say to him but I am almost overwhelmed by this 
joy of talking to him once more it is almost too much to get through 
the joy of it thank you, thank you, friend, with all my heart for 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 353 

what you have done for me this day God bless you, too, Sir Arthur, 
for what you are doing for us for us, over here who so need to 
get in touch with our beloved ones on the earth plane " 

"If only the world knew this great truth how different life would 
be for men and women Go on let nothing stop you great will be 
your reward hereafter Good-by I brought you, Sir Arthur, and 
my son together I felt you were the only man who might help us to 
pierce this veil and I was right Bless him, bless him, bless him, I 
say, from the depths of my soul he fills my heart and later we shall 
be together Oh so happy a happiness awaits him that he has never 
dreamed of tell him I am with him just tell him that I'll soon 
make him know how close I am all the while his eyes will soon be 
opened Good-by again God's blessing on you all." 

In the case of my seance, Sir Arthur believed that due to the great 
excitement it was a direct connection. 

The more so do I hesitate to believe and accept the above letter be- 
cause, although my sainted mother had been in America for almost 
fiftj* years, she could not speak, read nor write English but Spiritual- 
ists claim that when a medium is possessed by a Spirit who does not 
speak the language, she automatically writes, speaks or sings in the 
language of the deceased; however, Sir Arthur has told me that a 
Spirit becomes more educated the longer it is departed and that my 
blessed Mother had been able to master the English language in 
Heaven. 

After the purported letter from my Mother had been written and 
I had read it over very carefully, Sir Arthur advised me to follow 
out the advice, given by my Mother, to try to write when I reached 
home. 

I picked up a pencil in a haphazard manner and said, "Is there 
any particular way in which I must hold this pencil when I want to 
write, or does it write automatically?" / then wrote the name of 
"Powell" entirely of my own volition. Sir Arthur jumped up ex- 
citedly and read what I had just written. He saw the word 
"Powell" and said, "The Spirits have directed you in writing the 
name of my dear fighting partner in Spiritualism, Dr. Ellis Powell, 
who has just died in England. I am the person he is most likely 
to signal to, and here is his name coming through your hands. Truly 
Saul is among the Prophets." 

I must emphatically state that this name was written entirely of 
my own volition and in full consciousness. I had in my mind, my 



354 HARRY HOUDINI 

friend Frederick Eugene Powell, the American Magician, with 
whom at the time I was having a great deal of correspondence re- 
garding a business proposition which has since been consummated. 
There is not the slightest doubt of it having been more than a 
deliberate mystification on my part, or let us say a kindlier word 
regarding my thoughts and call it "coincidence." 

A few days later Sir Arthur sent me the following letter in ref- 
erence to my explanation of the writing of the name, "Powell." 
"The Ambassador, 

New York, 
June 20th, 1922. 
"My dear Houdini: 

"... No, the Powell explanation, won't do. Not only is he 
the one man who would wish to get me, but in the evening, Mrs. 
M., the lady medium, got, "there is a man here. He wants to say 
that he is sorry he had to speak so abruptly this afternoon." The 
message was then broken by your Mother's renewed message and 
so we got no name. But it confirms me in the belief that it was 
Powell. However, you will no doubt test your powers further. 

(Signed) "A. Conan Doyle." 

I had written an article for the New York Sun, October 30, 
1922, which gave my views in reference to Spiritualism and at the 
same time answered the challenge offered by the General Assembly 
of Spiritualists of New York State. This had been called to the 
attention of Sir Arthur, who wrote as follows: 

"Windlesham, 

Crowsborough, 

Sussex. 

November 19, 1922. 
"My dear Houdini: 

"They sent me the New York Sun with your article and no 
doubt wanted me to answer it, but I have no fancy for sparring 
with a friend in public, so I took no notice. 

' "But none the less, I felt rather sore about it. You have all 
the right in the world to hold your own opinion, but when you 
say that you have had no evidence of survival, you say what I can- 
not reconcile with what I saw with my own eyes. I know, by 
many examples, the purity of my wife's mediumship, and I saw 
what you got and what the effect was upon you at the time. You 
know also you yourself at once wrote down, with your own hand, 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 355 

the name of Powell, the one man who might be expected to com- 
^municate with me. Unless you were joking when you said that you 
did not know of this Powell's death, then surely that was evidential, 
since the idea that out of all your friends you had chanced to write 
the name of one who exactly corresponded, would surely be too 
wonderful a coincidence. 

"However, I don't propose to discuss this subject any more with 
you, for I consider that you have had your proofs and that the re- 
sponsibility of accepting or rejecting is with you. As it is a very 
real lasting responsibility. However, I have it at last, for I have 
done my best to give you the truth. I will, however, send you my 
little book, on the fraud perpetrated upon Hope, but that will be 
my last word on the subject. Meanwhile, there are lots of other 
subjects on which we can all meet in friendly converse. 
"Yours very sincerely, 

(Signed) "A. Conan Doyle." 

To which I replied: 

"December 15, 1922. 
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
Windlesham, 
Crowsborough, 
Sussex. 
"My dear Sir Arthur: 

"Received your letter regarding my article in the New York 
Sun. You write that you are very sore. I trust that it is not with 
me, because you, having been truthful and manly all your life, 
naturally must admire the same traits in other human beings. 

"I know you are honorable and sincere and think I owe you an 
explanation regarding the letter I received through the hands of 
Lady Doyle. 

"I was heartily in accord and sympathy at that seance but the 
letter was written entirely in English and my sainted Mother could 
not read, write or speak the English language. I did not care to dis- 
cuss it at the time because of my emotion in trying to sense the presence 
of my Mother, if there was such a thing possible, to keep me quiet 
until time passed, and I could give it the proper deduction. 

"Regarding my having written the name 'Powell.' Frederick 
Eugene Powell is a very dear friend of mine. He had just passed 
through two serious operations. Furthermore Mrs. Powell had a 
paralytic stroke at that time. I was having some business dealings 



356 HARRY HOUDINI 

with him which entailed a great deal of correspondence; therefore, 
naturally, his name was uppermost in my mind and I cannot make 
myself believe that my hand was guided by your friend. It was 
just a coincidence. 

"I trust my clearing up of the seance, from my point of view is 
satisfactory, and that you do not harbor any ill feelings, because I 
hold both Lady Doyle and yourself in the highest esteem. I know 
you treat this as a religion but personally I cannot do so, for up to 
the present time I have never seen or heard anything that could con- 
vert me. 

"Trusting you will accept my letter in the same honest, good 
faith as it has been written. 

"With best wishes to Lady Doyle, yourself and the family, in 
which Mrs. Houdini joins, 

"Sincerely yours, 

(Signed) "Houdini." 

In January, 1923, the Scientific American issued a challenge of 
$2,500 to the first person to produce a psychic photograph under test 
conditions. An additional $2,500 was offered to the first person 
who, under the test conditions, defined, and to the satisfaction of the 
judges named, produced an objective psychic manifestation of physi- 
cal character as defined, and of such sort that permanent instru- 
mental record may be made of its occurrence. 

The committee named were: Dr. William McDougall, D.Sc., 
Professor of Psychology at Harvard ; Daniel Frisk Comstock, Ph.D., 
former member of the Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology; Walter Franklin Prince, Ph.D., Principal Research 
Officer for the S. P. R.; Hereward Carrington, Ph.D., Psychic In- 
vestigator; J. Malcolm Bird, Member of the Scientific American 
Staff; and myself.* 



*So far, all of the several seances of investigation held under the aus- 
pices of the Scientific American, have failed in proving the existence of 
supernatural power or force, such as might with logical consistency be con- 
ceded as psychic. 

Valentine, the Wilkesbarre medium, proved to be a failure. Rev. (?) 
Jessie K. Stewart the same. Mrs. Elizabeth Allen Tomson of Chicago, a 
complete fiasco, not possessing sufficient courage to attempt a sitting other 
than under conditions and in a place prescribed by herself. And lastly the 
Italian lad, Nino Pecoraro, has accomplished nothing beyond the possibility 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 357 

Sir Arthur's letter is self-explanatory. 

"Windlesham, 
Crowsborough, 
Sussex. 

"January 1, 1923. 
"My dear Houdini: 

". . . I see that you are on the Scientific American Committee, 
but how can it be called an Impartial Committee when you have 
committed yourself to such statements as that some Spiritualists 
pass away before they realize how they have been deluded, etc? 
You have every possible right to hold such an opinion, but you can't 
sit on an Impartial Committee afterwards. It becomes biased at 
once. What I wanted was five good clear-headed men who can 
push to it without any prejudice at all, like the Dialectical Society* 
of London, who unanimously endorsed the phenomena. 

"Once more all greetings, 

(Signed) "A. Conan Doyle." 

On May 21, 22 and 24 the Scientific American held their first 
test seances. The permanent sitters were Mr. Walker, Mr. Les- 
curboura, Mr. J. Malcolm Bird of the Editorial staff of the Scien- 
tific American, Mr. Owen of the Times, Mr. Granville Lehrmann 
of the American Telephone and Telegraph and Richard I. Worrell, 
a friend of the medium. Drs. Carrington and Prince of the Com- 
mittee of Judges sat on Monday. Dr. Prince and myself on Thurs- 
day. On Tuesday the Committee was represented by Mr. Fred- 
erick Keating, conjuror. 

The medium, a man by the name of George Valentine of Wilkes- 



of human exertion, and failed utterly in so doing when securely fettered, as 
proved to be the case, when I personally did the tying. 

And from the results gotten thus far from the series of sittings with this 
"medium" it is safe to predict that the final analysis will place him in the 
same category as all others to date. 

*According to Spiritualistic publications The Dialectical Society never 
made a full report. The "Reports" of sub-committees only were published 
by Spiritualist papers used by writers in books but such reports were based 
on "hear-say" evidence taken from Spirits. They told their ghost stories 
to Committees and they were believed. There never was a unanimous re- 
port or conclusion. The non-Spiritual (?) members of the Dialectical So- 
ciety refused to have anything to do with the investigation. The great 
majority of the Committee were full-fledged Spiritualists, and the few whom 
they claimed to have convinced were simply credulous. 



358 HARRY HOUDINI 

Barre, Pcnn., claimed to be genuine. He was trapped by being 
seated on a chair which was so arranged that when he arose an elec- 
tric light arrangement was fixed in the room adjoining, together 
with dictographs and a phosphorous button. In the estimation of 
the Committee, Mr. Valentine was just a common, ordinary trick- 
ster. 

Lady Doyle, Miss Juliet Karcher, Mrs. Houdini, Sir Arthur and 
I were lunching at the Royal Automobile 'Club in London, May 11, 
1920, and Sir Arthur called attention to the fact that a few days 
previously they had been sitting at the same table with a powerful 
medium, and he told me in a very serious tone, which was corrobo- 
rated by Lady Doyle, that the table started to move all around the 
place to the astonishment of the waiter, who -was not aware of the 
close proximity of the medium. 

All the time he was relating it, I watched him closely and saw 
that both he and Lady Doyle were most sincere and believed what 
they had told me to be an actual fact. 

There are times when I almost doubt the sincerity of some of Sir 
Arthur's statements, even though I do not doubt the sincerity of his 
belief. 

I have been over a number of letters which I have received from 
Sir Arthur during the last few years and selected the following 
excerpts which show his viewpoint regarding many of the matters 
we have discussed. 

"I do not wonder that they put you down as an occult. As I 
read the accounts I do not see how you do it. You must be a 
brave man as well as exceptionally dexterous." 

"How you get out of the diving suits beats me, but the whole 
thing beats me completely." 

"I spoke of the Davenport Brothers. Your word on the matter 
knowing, as you do both the man and Ithe possibilities of his art, 
would be final." 

"You are to me a perpetual mystery. No doubt you are to 
everyone." 

"In a fair light I saw my dead Mother as clearly as I ever saw 
her in life. I am a cool observer and I do not make mistakes. It 
was wonderful but it taught me nothing I did not know before." 

"Our best remembrances to your wife and yourself. For God's 
sake be careful in those fearsome feats of yours. You ought to be 
able to retire now." 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 359 

"These clairvoyants whose names I have given you are passive 
agents in themselves and powerless. If left to themselves they guess 
and muddle as they sometimes do, when the true connection is 
formed, all is clear. That connection depends on the forces beyond, 
which are repelled by frivolity or curiosity but act under the impulse 
of sympathy." 

"I see that you know a great deal about the negative side of 
Spiritualism." 

"If you think of a lost friend before going to a seance and breathe 
a prayer that you may be allowed to get in touch you will have a 
chance otherwise none. It really does depend upon psychic or 
mental vibrations and harmonies." 

"I fear there is much fraud among American mediums where 
Spiritualism seems to have deservedly fallen into disrepute. Even 
when genuine it is used for stock exchange, and other base worldly 
purposes. No wonder it has sunk low in the very land that was 
honored by the first Spiritual manifestations of the series." 

"You certainly have very wonderful powers, whether inborn or 
acquired." 

"I envy you the privilege of having met Ira Davenport." 

"Most of our great mediums at present are unpaid amateurs, in- 
accessible to any but Spiritualists." 

"Something must come your way if you really persevere and get 
it out of your mind that you should follow it as a terrier follows 
a rat." 

"Mental harmony does not in the least abrogate common sense." 

"I heard of your remarkable feat in Bristol. My dear chap, why 
do you go around the world seeking a demonstration of the occult 
when you are giving one all the time?" 

"I know Hope to be a true psychic and will give you my reasons 
when I treat it, but you can give no man a blank check for honesty 
on every particular occasion, whether there is a temptation to hedge 
when psychic power runs low is a question to be considered. I am 
for an uncompromising honesty but also for thorough examination 
based on true knowledge." 

"I am amused by your investigation with the Society for Psychi- 
cal Research. Have they never thought of investigating you?" 

"It was good of you to give those poor invalids a show and you 
will find yourself in the third sphere alright with your dear wife, 
world without end, whatever you may believe." 



360 HARRY HOUDINI 

"Incredulity seems to me to be a sort of insanity under the cir- 
cumstances." This was in reference to some photographs of ecto- 
plasm which I questioned. 

"This talk of 'fake* is in most cases nonsense and shows our own 
imperfect knowledge of conditions and of the ways of Controls, who 
often take short cuts to their ends, having no regard at all to our 
critical idea." 

"Our opponents talk of one failure and omit a great series of 
successes. However, truth wins and there is lots of time." 

"I never let a pressman (newspaper man) get away with it with 
impunity if I can help it."* 

"Our relations are certainly curious and likely to become more so, 
for as long as you attack what / know from experience to be true 
I have no alternative but to attack you in turn. How long a pri- 
vate friendship can survive such an ordeal I do not know, but at 
least I did not create the situation." 

"You have a reputation among Spiritualists of being a bitterly 



*Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seems to imagine that all the newspapers in the 
world are against him. After his Australian tour he accused the Australian 
papers of refusing to publish the truth about his seances. Writing about 
American newspapers in his book, "Our American Adventure," he says: 
"The editors seem to place the intelligence of the public very low, and to 
imagine that they cannot be attracted save by vulgar, screaming headlines. 

"The American papers have a strange way also of endeavoring to com- 
press the whole meaning of some item into a few words of headline, which, 
as often as not, are slang." 

Even in Canada Sir Arthur claims to have been badly used by the news- 
papers. In "Our American Adventure" he writes: "There were some rather 
bitter attacks in the Toronto papers, including the one leader in the Evening 
Telegram, which was so narrow and illiberal that I do not think the most 
provincial paper in Britain could have been guilty of it. 

"It was to the effect that British lecturers took money out of the town, 
that they did not give the money's worth, and that they should be dis- 
couraged. 

"'Poking Them in the Eye' was the dignified title. 

"It did not seem to occur to the writer that a comic opera or a bedroom 
comedy was equally taking the money out of the town, but that the main 
purpose served by lectures, whether one agreed with the subject or not, 
was that they kept the public in first hand touch with the great current 
questions of mankind. I am bound to say that no other Toronto paper 
sank to the depth of the Evening Telegram but the general atmosphere was 
the least pleasant that I had met with in my American travels." 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 361 

prejudiced enemy who would make trouble if it were possible I 
know this is not so." 

On page 150 of Sir Arthur's book "Our American Adventure" 
he says: 

"Houdini is not one of those shallow men who imagine they can 
explain away Spiritual phenomena as parlor tricks, but he retains 
an open and ever, I think, a more receptive mind toward mys- 
teries which are beyond his art. He understands, I hope, that to 
get truth in the matter you have not to sit as a Sanhedrim of Judg- 
ment, like the Circle of Conjurors in London, since Spiritual truth 
does not come as a culprit to a bar, but you must submit in a hum- 
ble spirit to psychic conditions and so go forth, making most progress 
when on your knees." 

Sir Arthur has told me time and time again that his whole life is 
based upon the subject of Spiritualism and that he has sacrificed some 
of the best years of his life to the betterment and spread of the 
cause, which, due to his sincerity, is a beautiful faith.* But in my 
opinion it is no "sacrifice" to convince people who have recently 
suffered a bereavement of the possibility and reality of communicat- 
ing with their dear ones. To me the poor suffering followers 
eagerly searching for relief from the heart-pain that follows the 
passing on of a dear one are the "sacrifice." 

Sir Arthur thinks that I have great mediumistic powers and that 
some of my feats are done with the aid of spirits. Everything I do 
is accomplished by material means, humanly possible, no matter how 



* In an article in Truth, April, 1923, entitled "The New Revelation," 
by Rev. P. J. Cormican, S. J., he asks: 

"Does the knighted prophet of the New Revelation (Sir Arthur Conan 
Doyle) tell the whole truth about Spiritism? We think not. He sayt 
nothing about the evil consequences, physical, intellectual and moral, to those 
who dabble in Spiritism. He gives a one-sided account of the matter. He 
says nothing about what Spiritism has done, and is still doing, to fill our 
lunatic asylums all over the world. There are over thirty thousand luna- 
tics in England alone who lost their mind through this modern necromacy. 
Doyle does not even hint at the countless cases of insanity and suicide, of 
blasphemy and obscenity, of lying and deception, of broken homes and 
violated troth, all caused by Spiritism. To suppose that a God of truth 
and sanctity is giving a new message through such sources and with such 
consequences, is blasphemy pure and simple. Furthermore, to assert that 
this New Revelation is to supersede a worn-out creed is both gratuitous 
and absurd. Christianity will last till the crack of doom, when titled pro- 
phets shall have ceased to cross the Atlantic in quest of American shekels." 



362 HARRY HOUDINI 

baffling it is to the layman. He says that I do not enter a seance 
in the right frame of mind, that I should be more submissive, but 
in all the seances I have attended I have never had a feeling of 
antagonism. I have no desire to discredit Spiritualism; I have no 
warfare with Sir Arthur; I have no fight with the Spirits; but I 
do believe it is my duty, for the betterment of humanity, to place 
frankly before the public the results of my long investigation of 
Spiritualism. I am willing to be convinced; my mind is open, but 
the proof must be such as to leave no vestige of doubt that what is 
claimed to be done is accomplished only through or by supernatural 
power. So far I have never on any occasion, in all the seances I 
have attended, seen anything which would lead me to credit a 
mediumistic performance with supernatural aid, nor have I ever 
seen anything which has convinced me that it is possible to com- 
municate with those who have passed out of this life. Therefore I 
do not agree with Sir Arthur. 

IV. CONCLUSION 

It has been my desire in this book to convey to the reader my 
views regarding Spiritualism which are the result of study and in- 
vestigation, the startling feature of which has been the utter inability 
of the average human being to describe accurately anything he or she 
has witnessed. Many sitters, devoid of the sense of acute observa- 
tion, prefer to garnish and embellish their stories with the fruits of 
their fertile imaginations, adding a choice bit every time the incident 
is reported, and eventually, by a trick of the brain, really believing 
what they say. It is evident, therefore, that by clever misguidance 
and apt misdirection of attention, a medium can accomplish seeming 
wonders. The sitter becomes positively self-deluded and actually 
thinks he has seen weird phantoms or has heard the voice of a be- 
loved one. 

To my knowledge I have never been baffled in the least by what 
I have seen at seances. Everything I have seen has been merely a 
form of mystification. The secret of all such performances is to 
catch the mind off guard and the moment after it has been surprised 
to follow up with something else that carries the intelligence along 
with the performer, even against the spectator's will. When it is 
possible to do this with a highly developed mind like Mr. Kellar's, 
one trained in magic mystery, and when scientific men of the intel- 
ligence of Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the late 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 363 

William Crookes and William T. Stead, can be made to believe by 
such means how much easier it must be in the case of ordinary 
human beings. 

I cannot accept nor even comprehend the intelligence which jus- 
tifies the conclusion, so often put in print as the opinion of brainy 
men supporting Spiritualism, that admits the possibility of a result 
being accomplished by natural means but nevertheless assert their 
sincere belief that the identical performance by a professional medium 
is solely of supernatural origin and guidance, nor can I understand 
the reasoning that, acknowledging the disreputable character of cer- 
tain practitioners or mediums, deliberately defends the culprits in 
the performance of what has been proven a crime. Is it true logic, 
logic that would stand either in court or club room, to say that a 
medium caught cheating ninety-nine times out of a hundred was 
honest the hundredth time because not caught? Would the reader 
trust a servant who stole ninety-nine articles and then professed in- 
nocence when the hundredth article was missing? 

Sir Conan Doyle asks in all innocence, "Is it really scientific to 
deny and at the same time refuse to investigate?" My answer is 
most emphatically "no." Nevertheless, they absolutely oppose all 
honest efforts at investigation, and justify the mediums in refusing 
to work when the conditions are not just as they want them. When 
one is invited to a dark seance for the purpose of investigation and 
finds the conditions so fixed as to bar him from enquiring too 
closely and compel him to be content with merely looking on he 
stands a poor chance of getting at the facts, and should he dare to dis- 
regard the "rules of the circle" and the seance results in a blank, the 
investigator is charged with having brought an atmosphere of incre- 
dulity to bear which prevents manifestation. 

I do not affirm that the claims of Spiritualism are disproved by 
such failures but I do say that if under such circumstances one 
dared to investigate properly and sanely, and to cross-examine, as 
he most certainly would do in any other form of investigation, 
scientific, or in the other walks of life, Spiritualism would not be 
so generously accepted. In justification the psychic says that dark- 
ness or excessively dim light is perfectly legitimate and that tangible 
investigation might result in injury or even death to the medium. 
The folly of any such fear has been proven time and again by the 
unexpected play of a flash light. Even the ardent supporters who 
lay emphasis on such ah absurdity, according to their own confes- 



364 -. HARRY HOUDINI 

sion, made, or had made, flashlight photographs and there has 
never been a single case of harm or disaster reported. This necessity 
for darkness seems but the grossest invention of the medium to di- 
vert, even to the point of intimidation, the attention of the sitters. 
Such a necessity cannot be accorded a logical reason for existing under 
test conditions to demonstrate a scientific subject. It can be sup- 
ported only as a visionary, speculative superstition; an instrument 
to foster hallucinatory illusion and as an admirable subterfuge to 
cover fraud. 

Sir Arthur says: 

"If you want to send a telegram you must go to a telegraph 
office. If you want to telephone you must first pick up the re- 
ceiver and give your message to either an operator or a waiting auto- 
maton." 

Very well, I have gone to the operator between the Beyond and 
this earthly sphere, I have gone to the telegraph office that receives 
the message in code, to the so-called medium. What would be more 
wonderful to me than to be able to converse with my beloved 
mother? Surely there is no love in this world like a mother's 
love, no closeness of spirit, no other heart throbs that beat alike; 
but I have not heard from my blessed Mother, except through the 
dictates of the inmost recesses of my heart, the thoughts which fill 
my brain and the memory of her teachings. 

Would not my private secretary, John William Sargent, come 
back to me and tell me the secrets of the beyond if it were possible? 
Did he not, just before he died, tell me that he would come to me 
if there was any way of doing it? More than being a private sec- 
retary, he was my friend, true, loyal, sacrificing, knew me for 
thirty years. He has not come back to me and he would if it were 
possible. 

I had compacts with a round dozen. Each one promised me 
faithfully to come back if it were possible. I have even gone so far 
as to create secret codes and hand-grips. Sargent had a certain word 
he was to repeat to me; William Berol, the eminent mental expert, 
gave me the secret handshake a few hours before he died and did 
not regain consciousness after silently telling me that he remem- 
bered our compact; Atlanta Hall, niece of President Pierce, a 
woman ninety years of age, who had had seances with the greatest 
mediums that visited Boston, called for me just before her death, 
clasped my hand and gave me our agreed-upon grip which she was 



A MAGICIAN AMONG THE SPIRITS 365 

to give me through a medium. They have never come back to me! 
Does that prove anything? I have attended a number of seances 
since their death, the mediums have called for them, and when 
their spirit forms were supposed to appear not one of them could 
give me the proper signal. Would I have received it? I'll wager 
I would have. There was love of some kind between each of these 
friends who are gone and myself. It is needless to point out the 
love of a mother and son; the love of a real friend; the love of a 
woman of ninety toward a man who held her dear; the love of a 
philosopher toward a man who respected his life study, they were 
all loves, each strong, each binding. If these persons, with all the 
love they bore in their heart for me and all the love I have in my 
heart for them, did not return, what about those who did not hold 
me close, who had no interest in me? Why should they come back 
and mine not? 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has repeatedly told the Spiritualists that 
I will eventually see the light and embrace Spiritualism. If the 
memory of a loved one, gone to the protection of the hands of the 
Great Mystifier means Spiritualism, then truly I do believe in it. 
But if Spiritualism is to be founded on the tricks of exposed mediums, 
feats of magic, resort to trickery, then I say unflinchingly I do not be- 
lieve, and more, I will not believe. I have said many times that I am 
willing to believe, want to believe, will believe if the Spiritualists can 
show any substantiated proof, but until they do I shall have to live on, 
believing from all the evidence shown me and from what I have 
experienced that Spiritualism has not been proven satisfactorily to 
the world at large and that none of the evidence offered has been 
able to stand up under the fierce rays of investigation. 

It is not for us to prove that the mediums are dishonest, it is for 
them to prove that they are honest. They have made a statement, 
the most serious statement in recent times, for it affects the welfare, 
the mental attitude and means a complete revolution of age-old be- 
liefs and customs of the world. If there is anything to Spiritualism 
then the world should know it. If there is nothing to it, if it is, as 
it appears, built on a flimsy framework of misdirection, then too the 
universe must be told. There is too much at stake for a flighty 
passing, for unsubstantiated truths.